Firefighters battle two-alarm blaze, save house

1 April 2014

FORT KENT –Sitting at her small coffee table in the kitchen of her elegant log home, about eight feet from the charred remains of the family's garage, Michelle Plourde Chasse said, “They did a great job with timing, assistance and saving our home.”


A HOUSE WITHOUT A GARAGE - A fire broke out on Monday night at the home of Michelle Plourde-Chasse and Larry Chasse. Although the garage burned to the ground, firefighters were able to save the home. - Birden image

Michelle was referring to the firefighters from Fort Kent and Frenchville that rushed to her house Monday night to battle a large fire that started in the nearby garage.

Michelle, who leads the high school Community Voices, a group dedicated to preventing underage access to alcohol, recalled how her evening took a bizarre turn from her usual nighttime routine. “I was sitting on the couch, and I saw the billowing of the smoke.”

She went outside to try to take care of the problem, but she saw that the flames were already too big for her to put out herself. She called 911.

Fort Kent Fire Chief Ed Endee said the department received the call at 10:16 p.m., and 18 firefighters responded with three fire engines, the ladder truck and the rescue vehicle.


WAY TOO CLOSE - The flames destroyed the garage, but firefighters from Fort kent and Frenchville were able to keep the fire from burning the family's home. - Birden image

Michelle's husband, Larry Chasse who works for Daigle and Houghton, was out of town at the time. Michelle said the volunteer firefighters started arriving within minutes.

They placed her and her two children, Zachary, 11, and Addison, 6, into one of the firefighter's personal vehicles. Later, Michelle would send the kids to a relative's home to allow them to get some sleep.

When Ed Endee arrived, the garage was fully engulfed in flames, and it was starting to scorch the nearby log home. “A few more minutes, and the house would have been burning,” said Endee.

“We immediately protected the exposure, the house, with a hose line. Then we extinguished the fire in the garage,” said Endee.

The fire chief called for assistance from the Frenchville Fire Department, which responded with one of their engines. The Eagle Lake Fire Department sent men and an engine to the Fort Kent fire station to provide coverage for the rest of Fort Kent while the local firefighters dealt with the burning garage.

The first responders soon doused the flames that destroyed the garage, saving the house. Firefighters cleared the scene around midnight.

Michelle, who spent the night in her home, was calmly preparing for work on Tuesday morning, appearing at ease with the blackened remains of the garage just outside. “It was quite the night,” said Michelle.

Michelle said the fire started from a container where the family would dump their ashes from a wood stove in the house. The last load of ashes went into the container at around 5 p.m..

Endee said the ashes “...probably had some live embers in it.”

The fire must have smoldered for hours, and Michelle recalled noticing, when she first went outside to look, that the automatic doors of the garage had opened, indicating that the flames had spread far enough to damage some electrical equipment.

While the firefighters managed to save their home, Michelle said the garage had many valuable things.

“I lost my jeep. My husband lost his tractor.” Along with the vehicles, the family lost boat motors, camping equipment, toys, winter gear and much more.


PROPERTY LOSS - The fire left the family and firefighters unharmed, but it destroyed a jeep, a tractor, a great deal of recreational gear and some children's toys. - Birden image

For the kids, the reality of the fire took some time to hit them. Michelle said, “They were more shocked at first.”

Later on Tuesday morning, around 1 a.m., Michelle said Addison had a moment of realization when she woke up and cried out, “But my bike blew up.”



Once again, the FKFD did an outstanding job. From the picture, it is clear the home is just feet from the garage! While the family lost some items, they still have their home thanks to the quick and professional efforts of the FKFD.

Great Job!

Great job Fort Kent Fire Dept.!