ELLSWORTH — Two people were taken to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital as the result of a structure fire that destroyed three apartments and a garage at 241 Christian Ridge Road early Tuesday evening.
A tenant of one of the apartments was taken to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital with burns. Neighbors identified the injured man as Jesse Hastings, 38, of Ellsworth. A Hancock firefighter responding to the blaze was also hospitalized after slipping on ice and injuring his knee.
Chief Richard Tupper said the fire marshal is investigating the cause of the blaze, which began around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday and rapidly engulfed the building.
“On our arrival, we had fire showing from the second-story apartment over the garage,” Tupper said. “We were quite shorthanded initially, and for all the water we were putting on the fire we were not darkening it down.”
Tupper said he was told that the residents and several pets had all evacuated and were sheltering with neighbors by the time crews arrived. The building had one apartment in the back of the garage and two apartments above. Firefighters conducted a sweep of the apartments and found no one inside.
“It was odd that the fire continued to intensify while we were trying to extinguish it,” said Tupper, who said a decision was eventually made that the three apartments and garage could not be saved. Crews turned their attention toward preventing the fire from spreading toward the attached house.
“We put a lot of effort at cutting it off before it got from the garage to the house,” Tupper said. “We put our money where it made the most sense.”
Firefighters were successful in saving the house, which survived with “minimal” smoke damage. A hollow core door between the garage and the house was partially destroyed, said Tupper, but “the house survived extremely well, with minimal smoke damage.”
Tupper credits closed doors with preventing extensive damage to the house.
“The doors being closed throughout the house certainly helped to limit the smoke damage,” he said.
Trucks were filled at hydrants on both the Bangor and Bucksport roads, as there are no hydrants on Christian Ridge Road. Water was ferried to the scene. With temperatures hovering around 20 degrees, firefighters struggled with an icy driveway and freezing equipment.
“Crews had a hard time manipulating hand lines,” Tupper said. “The driveway was extremely icy. A pump on one of Hancock’s trucks froze up and had to go and thaw out.”
Fire departments from Ellsworth, Trenton and Hancock responded to the scene. Lamoine provided station coverage in Ellsworth; Dedham and Surry were on standby. Bar Harbor covered for Sullivan and Sullivan covered for Hancock. The Ellsworth Police Department and Maine State Police assisted with traffic control, and Ellsworth highway crews came out and sanded when the road reopened around 8 p.m. County Ambulance also responded.
Emera Maine was on the scene to deal with a downed power line that had been connected to the house and burned, dropping onto one of the fire hose lines.