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Fire hits home of former Madawaska town manager on Pelletier Island

ST. AGATHA, Maine — Firefighters responded to a fire on Pelletier Island, Sunday afternoon, at the residence of former Madawaska Town Manager Ryan Pelletier.

The call came in at 2:35 p.m. and the first crews arrived on scene within 15 minutes, according to St. Agatha Fire Chief Bob Guerrette.

“The initial crew on scene were very quick thinking and without them, [the Pelletiers] would have lost the house,” Guerrette said Monday. The chief added that the crews “did a great job and it was a whole team effort.”

Back at the end of July, Pelletier, who is now the administrator for Aroostook County, made a plea to the Madawaska Board of Selectmen to have an automatic aid agreement set in place between the Madawaska Fire Department and the St. Agatha Fire Department so that Madawaska firefighters would respond directly to fires on the island. Though Pelletier Island is part of St. Agatha, Madawaska Fire Station 2 is closer to the causeway to get on the island than the St. Agatha Fire Station.

“We were actually going to have a meeting today at 2 p.m.,” said Guerrette, indicating that the meeting had been scheduled days prior to the fire. “We were going to work out an automatic agreement today.”

However, neither Guerrette nor Pelletier believe that having an automatic aid agreement in place would have benefitted Pelletier in this case.

While the Madawaska Fire Department was not dispatched, the North Lakes Fire Department heard the page, and sent a tanker and engine just in case St. Agatha FD needed assistance, according to Guerrette.

St. Agatha and Madawaska already have an oral agreement in place concerning mutual aid, but Guerrette said that he and Pelletier were going to work on a written agreement and propose it to both town boards.

“Stuff like that is not done overnight,” Guerrette said. “This is going to take some time.”

“I am very grateful for the response of the St. Agatha Fire Department,” Pelletier wrote in a statement to the St. John Valley Times Monday. “They contained the fire very quickly.”

The fire was caused by a gas grill being too close to the house Sunday afternoon. Guerrette said that it was “totally unintentional.”  

Pelletier said there is extensive fire, smoke, and water damage to the house and he is working with the insurance company to work things out.

“I want to thank the outpouring of support we have received from the community and family and friends,” he said.

Pelletier said he is hopeful the two towns will work out an agreement for all of those concerned.

“People take for granted what our local fire departments do as volunteers and we need to support them all,” he said.

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