FARMINGDALE — A West Gardiner contractor’s wood harvester was destroyed last week in a fire on a wood lot off Maple Street.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike LaPlante said town firefighters got the call on the morning of Feb. 14 about a harvester fire in the woods about 3,000 feet off of Maple Street, south of A.W. Allen Firewood. Firefighters had to trudge through the snow to locate the fire, as the McGee Construction-owned harvester did not use a road to gain access to the lot. Even if the fire was found in time, firefighters were about a quarter-mile from the nearest water access.

“We eventually just walked in and we were told they went in behind … Allen’s wood yard,” LaPlante said. “By the time we got there, there was nothing we could do.

“It was brutal,” he added, saying the harvester had hundreds of gallons of diesel and hydraulic fluid in it.

LaPlante said the harvester had an on-board system for fighting fires and a fire extinguisher, but neither was effective.

LaPlante said deep snow squelched any threat of a forest fire, but some trees in the immediate area of the harvester were singed.

McGee safety manager Ted Haskell said he could not disclose the value of the harvester. Secondhand harvesters sold on from model years 2008 to 2018 are listed from $119,000 to $458,000. LaPlante estimated the value of the machine to be near $500,000.

Haskell said an insurance company still is evaluating the incident. No one was injured during the fire.

“It’s an inconvenience more than a setback,” Haskell said.

When asked if there will be a change in harvester operating policy based on the incident, Haskell said it was too early to tell.

“Once we get the final report, we’ll take action accordingly,” he said.


Sam Shepherd — 621-5666
[email protected]
Twitter: @SamShepME

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