On March 19, 2005 traffic on Route 17 was diverted in Rockport for a few hours Saturday afternoon while firefighters battled to save an old farmhouse from burning to the ground.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but Fire Chief Bruce Woodward said it appeared to have started in a single-story portion of the residence being used as a studio apartment with a sleeping loft.
Sharon Larkin, who lives there with her son and his own three children, two daughters who are 9 and 10 years old and a 4-year-old son, owns the home. All five were home at the time of the fire, which was found by one of the daughters, Woodward said. They escaped the fire unharmed, along with a couple of dogs and cats.
Fire broke out at the home around 1:30 p.m. A witness at the scene said she were driving by and stopped at the home after seeing smoke. She said Larkin and the other family members were in the process of getting out of the house, gathering up the pets along the way.
Woodward said the home and the belongings were not insured.
The house at 690 Rockland St. (Route 17) is next to an auto body and repair shop, between Rollins Lane and Mt. Pleasant Street. Route 90 traffic was blocked from turning west onto Route 17 and traffic coming east on Route 17 was diverted down Mt. Pleasant Street.
It was all hands on deck Saturday in Rockport after Woodward quickly called for mutual aid.
"All of the firefighters did an excellent job -- Rockport, Camden and Rockland," Woodward said. "The team work that was needed to stop the fire from spreading in either direction, with a barn on one side and the main house on the other, was top notch."
Firefighters and equipment from Camden and Rockland converged on the scene and despite heavy damage to studio apartment portion of the home, the house and the adjoining barn were saved.
Woodward said the upstairs has extensive smoke damage in the main house, which fronts Route 17. He said that the first floor of the home out to the street is in pretty good shape, with light smoke damage and belongings that are salvageable.
"The upstairs belongs are questionable as to whether they can be salvaged," Woodward said.
Woodward said that at one point, it appeared that the barn was catching on fire, but he said the heavy smoke was coming from the home.
Once they located the main fire and had it under control, a positive pressure fan was placed at the front of the home to push heat and smoke from the upstairs.
"That helped get rid of a little heat for the crew working upstairs," Woodward said.
But after a short time, Woodward called for the fan to be shut off.
"I had people in the barn to make sure it wasn't getting too hot at that point and we could have continued using the fan but I got a little nervous," Woodward said. "I also didn't want to push too much smoke onto the crew in the barn."
Rockport police, Rockland fire police and a state trooper also responded to the scene, helping with for traffic control. Camden First Aid Association emergency personnel were also on hand to tend to the firefighters.
A Central Maine Power truck arrived on scene to cut power to the home while firefighters were working in and around the home.
After knocking down a major portion of the fire, extensive overhaul was done inside the residence, checking for hotspots inside the walls and ceilings.
Woodward that the last firefighters cleared the scene at around 5:45 p.m.