Prospect Harbor light station fire extinguished



GOULDSBORO – The combined efforts of 10 fire departments kept the picturesque 131-year-old Prospect Harbor lightkeeper’s house from being completely destroyed after the historic wood-frame dwelling caught fire shortly after dawn.

The 38-foot-tall light tower, a source of pride in town and notable for being a wooden structure, was not damaged. A state Fire Marshal’s Office investigator already has been on the scene, but no cause has been identified yet.

Standing on Prospect Harbor’s eastern shore, the automated Prospect Harbor Light station is on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Satellite Operations Center on Lighthouse Point. Called Gull Cottage, the two-story, wood-frame house is used as a vacation retreat for military personnel and their families. A five-member family was staying in the dwelling and a family member reported the fire at 5:13 a.m. The family was able to get out unharmed.

The fire at the Prospect Harbor light station, which broke out after dawn in the keeper’s cottage, was visible from across the harbor and beyond. JOSEPH PITTS PHOTO

Within minutes, the Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor fire departments were at the U.S. Navy facility and battling the fire, which was concentrated in the second story and roof. Billowing black smoke from Gull Cottage’s roof could be seen from across the harbor and beyond as Steuben, Sorrento, Sullivan, Franklin, Hancock, Cherryfield, Lamoine and Trenton firefighters steadily streamed in to help fight the fire, which was mostly extinguished by 10 a.m. The Schoodic EMS squad also responded and Milbridge dispatched an ambulance that stood by on Route 1. The Blue Hill Fire Department served as backup for the Sullivan Fire Department. Gouldsboro police also assisted.

Appointed by selectmen last Thursday, Gouldsboro Fire Chief Todd Daley credited the quick response of area fire departments and steady arrival of tankers to put out the fire. He said a southwest wind picked up and was an issue in the firefighting effort. While the cottage’s ocean-facing first floor, with its covered porch, looks partially intact, the chief says both fire and water wreaked much damage.

“Between water and fire damage, it is a complete loss,” Daley summed up Monday morning. He noted, however, that the light tower is unscathed and firefighters used it to better see the fire’s progression and took advantage of the tower as a platform to put out the fire. The beacon remains a navigational aid maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

A U.S. Navy rear admiral’s oil painting of the Prospect Harbor Light Station was among the historical pictures removed. GOULDSBORO POLICE DEPARTMENT PHOTO BY PATRICK MCNULTY

Daley added that a rear admiral’s oil painting of the Prospect Harbor Light station was salvaged.

Activated in 1849, the original Prospect Harbor lighthouse and attached 1.5-story lightkeeper’s quarters were constructed with granite. The first appointed lightkeeper was Nathaniel Noyes. The lantern room was fitted with an improved fifth-order Fresnel lens, changing the beacon’s fixed white light to a flash every 60 seconds. The original lighthouse and cottage were replaced with wood structures in 1891.

The light’s last keeper, Albion Faulkingham, served from 1930 until the beacon was automated in 1934.

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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