Bridgewater Potato House Fire Forces Evacuation of Nearby Homes
Firefighters from several communities battled a potato house fire on Main Street in Bridgewater late Friday night that temporarily displaced three families.
Bridgewater Fire Department responded to the blaze at Bradbury Farms around 10 p.m. and called for mutual aid from Monticello, Mars Hill, Easton, Littleton and Centerville, New Brunswick to help with tankers and manpower.
"Bradbury Farms lost their generations-old potato house, a historic landmark in the town of Bridgewater," said Matthew Powers, the town's Public Information Officer.
Due to the size of the structure, and the strong winds, Chief Troy Bradstreet activated an emergency operations center (EOC) at the firehouse, Powers said.
The smoke and drifting embers forced the evacuation of three families for the night. The town’s civic building was opened as an emergency shelter until accommodations at the Bear Paw Inn in Mars Hill were arranged for two of the families.
The Aroostook Sheriff's Office and the Maine State Police assisted with traffic control, evacuating local residences, and keeping bystanders out of the thick smoke, Powers said.
Because of the late night need for the Centerville, N.B. Fire Department, U.S. Border Patrol was activated to assist the crossing and securing of the border at the Bridgewater port on entry, which had closed at 9 p.m.
Emera Maine was called in to disconnect the power lines going to the building, making it safe for firefighters to apply water. The Bridgewater Highway Department, along with Maine Department of Transportation worked to keep the roadway sanded as the road surface began to ice up from the tanker trucks. Crown Ambulance sent a unit to stand by. No one was injured
"At one point the wives of the firefighters got together to feed the hungry responders," Powers said. Joshua Tweedie opened the Mars Hill IGA around 1 a.m. to provide sandwiches and coffee for the various agencies working through the early morning hours.
The scene was cleared around 4 a.m. Saturday. The potato house and its contents were insured. The building was a complete loss.