EMBDEN — A fire that destroyed two garages and their contents Sunday on Embden Pond began when the property owner was using a propane blow torch to burn leaves and shrubs that had collected around the foundation of the buildings, according to officials.

Chief Stacy Beane of the Anson Fire Department said Tuesday morning the wooden garages on Hertzberg Road in Embden, at the north end of the pond, were close to each other and about 50 feet from an adjacent camp.

“It is a summer camp,” Beane said. “The residents live in Portland and came up for Memorial Day weekend. The camp itself didn’t burn, but it got hot enough so it melted the power meter and broke two windows in the upstairs of the camp.”

Fire destroys two wooden garages with metal roofs Sunday on Hertzberg Road in Embden. While the two garages on Embden Pond could not be saved, firefighters were able to prevent serious damage to a nearby camp. Photo provided by Anson Chief Stacy Beane

Items destroyed inside the garages, which had metal roofs, included four-wheelers, a compact tractor and many tools, according to Beane.

She said the owner apparently was driving an all-terrain vehicle while using a propane blow torch to burn leaves and shrubs next to the foundations of the garages when the fire broke out.

“I saw propane tanks on the back of the ATV,” Beane said.

The afternoon fire drew firefighters from several towns, including Anson, Madison, Starks, New Portland and Solon, according to Beane, who said they remained at the scene for about two hours.

“It ignited three propane tanks,” Beane said. “Those were burned off, and the fire went into the woods. We called a Maine Forest Service helicopter, but we pretty much had it knocked down before they got here. There were actually two firefighters from New Hampshire that came across on a boat, and they were really impressed with how fast we were able to lay down line and knock it down.”

She said the garages were insured and no one was hurt in the fire.

“We had an opposing wind off the lake pushing the fire to the woods, away from the camp itself,” Beane said, adding that spectators kept coming by to see what was happening.

“We had to call in traffic control,” she said. “We were shuttling water from an Embden hydrant at the community center.”

The Anson Fire Department covers Anson, North Anson and Embden.

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