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Brush pile fire gets out of control, damages home

FORT KENT, Maine — Some melted vinyl siding was the only damage caused by a brush pile burn that got out of control Saturday evening on South Perley Brook Road.

Homeowner Chad Pelletier’s brush pile was “too big and too close” to the house, according to Fort Kent Fire Chief Ed Endee. Also, Pelletier’s garden hose proved insufficient to keep the fire from growing too large, Endee said Monday.

Shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday, the fire department dispatched two engines and the rescue vehicle to Pelletier’s home. Fourteen of the department’s volunteer firefighters responded.

Firefighters extinguished the brush fire and made sure there was no further danger to nearby structures, and left the home after about an hour, Endee said. Pelletier had received a permit from the fire chief to conduct the burn.

“The radiant heat had melted the siding. There was no flame impingement on the structure,” Endee said, adding that the fire had not spread to nearby trees or grass.

“A lot of people don’t expect the heat to be that strong or travel that far,” the chief said. “As a word of caution, I advise people to keep burn piles away from vehicles, houses and livestock.”

Endee said people should also make sure they have adequate protection, in the form of water and garden hoses, at hand. He recommends that people break up large piles into smaller ones and burn them at different times.

Endee, who also is the town’s fire warden, said that if the area receives some rain on Monday, he would consider issuing fire permits. Otherwise, he does not plan on issuing any more such permits, considering the dry conditions.

The Maine Forest Service issued a “moderate” or Class II fire danger rating for the St. John Valley on Monday. Parts of Southern maine are in a “high” fire danger rating.

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