A pair of condominiums at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley were destroyed by fire Tuesday night, totaling more than $850,000 in damages, an official said.

Rangeley Fire Chief Tim Pellerin posted on Facebook early Wednesday morning that there were no injuries, “just some cold, tired, aching sore firefighters and a couple of frozen fire trucks.”

The fire comes as Saddleback’s future is in flux. The ski resort hasn’t been in operation for more than a year, though a private group is trying to raise money to buy the resort and start it back up. That group said Wednesday the fire wouldn’t have any effect on the purchase initiative.

The large fire at the Rock Pond Condominium Complex was reported around 5 p.m. Tuesday, drawing a large emergency response from 15 towns across Franklin County, including nine fire department tanker trucks, according Pellerin’s post.

Sgt. Ken Grimes, of the state fire marshal’s office, who was at the scene Wednesday morning, said officials still were investigating the fire’s cause and were unlikely to reach a determination soon.

When fire crews arrived Tuesday night, condominium unit 28 was fully in flames, while the fire also had spread to unit 26. The two units were destroyed, but two other units were saved, according to Pellerin’s post.

Reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, Pellerin said about 75 firefighters responded to the fire. He said he had not heard anything from the fire marshal’s office about the cause of the fire.

Pellerin said there were no injuries to responders, just that they had to deal with weather — including cold and snow — as well as travel distance and a lack of water. He said the hydrant system they tried to attach to was frozen, so tankers carrying water had to be called in.

Pellerin said both condominium units were likely total losses. Three nearby condominiums sustained some damage as well, but Pellerin said those damages — including some broken windows and scorching — amounted to about $1,500. The fire took three hours to get control of, he said.

“A huge thank you to all the mutual aid companies who traveled long distances to assist us in controlling this fast moving fire,” Pellerin wrote on Facebook. “Great job to team Rangeley on a tough initial battle, to Northstar EMS, Franklin County (sheriff’s office) and Rangeley (police department), and Franklin County Communications for all your help!”

Firefighters faced snowfall and frigid temperature as they battled the wind-swept fire, with Pellerin also thanking the Rangeley town mechanic and others getting their firetrucks “unfrozen and home.”

The Rock Pond Condominium Complex is described on the ski resort’s website as two-level, three- and four-bedroom units located trailside with ski-in, and ski-out access. The larger units can accommodate up to 10 people, according to the site.

A private group — the Saddleback Mountain Foundation, led by Peter Stein — is in the process of raising enough money and community support to buy the ski resort.

Stein posted a message on Facebook about the fire, saying there was “no question the Rangeley and Franklin County firefighters had their hands full on such a cold night and stormy evening.”

“This to me is blunt evidence of the strength of our community and our ability to join together. Our team got calls from the media asking if this would impact the initiative in anyway. For me this just brings greater resolve to get Saddleback open again. We are making progress and look forward to the day when lifts are spinning again,” Stein wrote.

The foundation announced last fall that it had reached informal agreement with the owners of Saddleback, Irene and Bill Berry, to buy the ski resort and the land around it. The foundation represents Saddleback season-pass holders and Rangeley business owners.

In addition, the Trust for Public Land, along with the New England Forestry Foundation, reached an agreement with the Berrys to buy 3,249 acres around the ski area to preserve as conservation land.

On Jan. 31, Stein posted a message on the Saddleback Mountain Foundation Facebook page, reassuring skiers and supporters that he was moving ahead with a plan to reopen Saddleback. The resort ceased operations in early 2016.

“Everyday, whether up at the mountain, in the Portland area, or places in between or beyond, I am motivated and inspired by the people who share with me their passion for Saddleback and the emotion of again being active on that mountain,” Stein wrote. “I so deeply regret that we couldn’t get those lifts spinning for this season. We meant it and we were motivated to succeed in that goal.”

Staff writer Colin Ellis contributed to this report.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.