Fire ravaged a home at 403 Lowell Town Road in Wiscasset Sunday morning, Dec. 5. The homeowner, Matthew Cressey, and one other occupant are safe, but the home and its contents, including a vehicle, are a total loss.
Cressey called in the fire at 9:23 a.m. and Wiscasset Fire and Emergency Medical Services were on scene by around 9:30, according to Cpt. Steven Smith, reached by phone after the fire.
Departments from Alna, Boothbay, Dresden, Edgecomb, Westport and Woolwich responded with mutual aid. Smith said there were easily 50 firefighters who responded to fight the fire and shuttle water to the location.
According to a brief on-scene interview with safety officer Tim Merry, Wiscasset firefighters arrived to find the garage area fully aflame and the fire encroaching on the attached house.
“The fire load is huge,” Merry said, adding that hay stacked in the garage area fed into the fire and the collapse of the roof made fighting the blaze harder.
The house caught quickly, Smith said. It was only 15-20 minutes before the structure was in flames and collapsing in on itself.
The biggest issue was the location of the home, well away from any hydrants, according to Smith. Setting up water support was a critical factor and getting the tanker shuttle established took some time. Mutual aid brought additional tankers, and trucks were deployed to a dry hydrant at Foy Road to keep the water supply coming.
After determining the occupants of the home were safe, firefighters approached the scene with a defensive attack, targeting the flames with two lines from outside the structure, Merry said. While they were able to contain the blaze within the footprint of the foundation, the house could not be saved.
Smith said the fire moved rapidly through the unfinished interior of the house; Cressey designed the house himself and had been building it over a period of seven years. Once fire gained a foothold in the space there was little to impede its progress. The home was not insured and Cressey lost all his belongings in the fire.
Lowell Town Road was closed in both directions for the duration of the fire. The Wiscasset Police Department provided traffic control.
The scene was cleared at approximately 1:30 p.m.
The Maine State Fire Marshal’s office reviewed the scene on Monday, Dec. 6. According to Wiscasset Fire Chief Robert Bickford, fire marshals determined the fire started in the garage and was caused by work being done on a piece of equipment.
A benefit dinner for Cressey will be held at the Wiscasset Community Center from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. Cressey’s family has also set up a GoFundMe page to help him get back on his feet. As of Dec. 8, the account has raised $7,495 towards a $40,000 goal.
Donations can be made by searching “Wiscasset House Fire” at GoFundMe.