WOOLWICH — Over a dozen fire departments assisted Woolwich Fire Department Friday in fighting a brush fire on a small island located at the end of Island Road.

Woolwich Fire Department initially responded after receiving reports of the smell of smoke from the area around Georgetown Pottery on Route 1 at roughly 2 p.m. Thursday.

Crews from Woolwich, Alna, Edgecomb, Dresden, Arrowsic, Georgetown, West Bath, Brunswick, Topsham, Lisbon, Boothbay, Sabattus, and others sent firefighters and equipment to help fight the blaze.

According to Woolwich Fire Chief Michael Demers, crews had trouble locating the fire at first due to widespread smoke, spread by wind. The Maine Forestry Service was called to assist, and a helicopter pilot spotted the fire burning on the island.

“He advised us there was four acres or more already going,” said Demers. “He gave us GPS coordinates to where it was from the air.”

The helicopter quickly assisted by dropping water onto the area as crews rushed to start containing the fire. A small cottage, located on the southern end of the island, was at risk before the fire’s progress was stopped a few hundred feet from the structure.

Fighting the fire proved difficult. When crews first arrived, low tide made accessing  water from the nearby Back River impossible. In the end, crews used multiple pumper trucks and nearly a mile of fire-hose to reach across a causeway onto the island.

Over a mile of fire-hose was needed to access a fire on an island in Woolwich. Staff photo by Chris Chase

After the initial fire was contained Thursday night, a few firefighters were left to keep an eye on potential flare-ups. Early Friday morning, more smoke was spotted as the fire rekindled from areas underground.

Multiple fire crews were needed mainly to keep firefighters from becoming exhausted. The island, which is nameless, has steep ridges and rough terrain to navigate, making the job that much harder.

“Woods fires are a lot of work, period,” said Chris Carleton, a volunteer from Arrowsic, during a rest-break. He had been fighting the fire for five hours straight. “It’s a lot of raking and a lot of water.”

Friday afternoon crews were busy laying down a layer of foam and digging up any hot spots to keep the fire contained.

Underground fires like this one were the chief concern of firefighters fighting the brush fire in Woolwich. Staff photo by Chris Chase

The owner of the cottage, Lisa Parker, rushed to the island as soon as she heard the news.

“It’s our worst nightmare,” she said.

Parker’s family has owned the island for over 50 years, and the small cottage was built by her father.

“I still can’t get over it,” said Parker. “I quickly realized how grateful I am.”

The fire was stopped just shy of a more landscaped area around the cottage, with blackened areas visible from the windows. “I realize just how lucky we are,” she said.

Demers credits the Maine Forestry Service for keeping the fire away from Parker’s cottage. He said they made dozens of water drops before leaving due to lack of fuel.

The Maine Forestry Service is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: