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6/12/2013 2:00:00 PM
Barn, Boats And Vehicles Destroyed In Jefferson Blaze
Flames shoot high into the air at the scene of a structure fire in Jefferson Sunday night. The blaze leveled an old chicken barn on Valley Road. The building in the foreground was saved. (Paula Roberts photo)
Flames shoot high into the air at the scene of a structure fire in Jefferson Sunday night. The blaze leveled an old chicken barn on Valley Road. The building in the foreground was saved. (Paula Roberts photo)
By Shlomit Auciello

An early evening fire in Jefferson destroyed a barn and most of its contents, and melted the vinyl siding on an adjacent building.

According to Jefferson Fire Chief Walter Morris, the two story, 40-by-120-foot barn on Valley Road was part of a property owned by Richard Hertel at 120 Washington Rd. The call came in at approximately 7 p.m.

"He does vehicle and boat repair," Morris said June 10. "He had just put a boat in the building Sunday afternoon and did not disconnect the battery on it." Morris said a short circuit in that battery might have caused the fire, but State Fire Marshal's Office Investigator Mary-Ann MacMaster could not ascertain the exact cause, due to the extent of the damage.

"It could have been a computer, a battery charger or the boat battery shorting out. It appeared to be accidental and is not suspicious in any way," Morris said.

Morris said the fire apparently began inside the building on the Valley Road side.

"That's also where he [Hertel] has a little workshop," he said. Several outboard motors were stored in that area, along with a computer and some battery chargers. "There were a lot of vehicles and equipment there."

Morris said at least four vehicles. including a Volkswagen van, a Corvette, at least three boats, and an antique motorcycle, were destroyed in the fire, as well as several personal watercraft, some golf carts, and an estimated 20 to 30 outboard motors that were there to be repaired.

Some of the property, such as a washer and dryer being stored there, was insured by the owners. Hertel had fire insurance on the building.

The Jefferson, Whitefield, Somerville, Washington and Nobleboro fire departments responded to the scene. The Windsor Fire Department provided station coverage for Jefferson. Jefferson first responders and Waldoboro Emergency Medical Service also responded. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office provided traffic control.

"We had so many departments respond," Morris said. "Fortunately for this fire we had a mill pond right around the corner." He said firefighters were able to lay a 4-inch hose line from the pond directly to the scene. "It worked out very well."

"The building was a total loss but we did save another almost identical building to the left of it. It was hot enough that the vinyl siding melted. There is also a house directly across the street. We were able to prevent any damage to that house," Morris said.

"We were hampered initially by the power line that served the building," he said. "That came down early in the fire." He said firefighters worked around the downed power line until a Central Maine Power crew arrived to secure it.

"The departments did a great job helping us out," Morris said. "Particularly Waldoboro's aerial truck. That was a tremendous help to us, getting an elevated hose to direct the water down. The initial crew, my people in Jefferson, did a great job getting water on the building right away."

Morris said most of the property in the building, excepting a few items in the back, was "pretty much destroyed." He said it was hard to estimate the value of the loss.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it was $200,000 or more," he said. "The cost of stuff adds up pretty quick these days."

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