Bar Harbor firefighters work to clear smoke from a house at 9 Center Street in Bar Harbor after a fire there late Wednesday afternoon. PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Woman succumbs in smoky fire



BAR HARBOR — A local veterinarian died at Mount Desert Island hospital Wednesday after in a fire in her home, state police said.

Dr. Melissa Watership, 46, was unresponsive when firefighters carried her from the kitchen of the smoke-filled house at 9 Center Street.

Firefighters responded to reports of a house on fire at 3:45 p.m. Watership’s husband Matt Cough was away from home at the time of the fire. Her two young children were out of state with their father.

Earlier in the afternoon, neighbor Matt Servaites arrived home in his truck. He said someone standing on the street nearby yelled to him and pointed to the chimney of Watership’s home, due to a large volume of smoke.

He noted Watership’s car was in the driveway and he assumed she was home.

“Because the smoke was only coming out of the chimney, I just thought she was making a fire with wet wood,” Servaites said.

About an hour later, he looked out his window and saw smoke issuing from underneath the eaves the house next door.

“At that point I realized something was pretty wrong,” he said.

At the same time, another neighbor saw the smoke coming from the eaves and called 911. Servaites said he knocked on the front and side doors, rang the doorbell and called out to Watership. The doorknobs were hot to the touch, he said. He realized it would not be safe to go into the house himself.

Firefighters arrived in minutes with a ladder truck and ambulance. They entered the house and soon brought Watership out on a stretcher, Servaites said.

“She didn’t seem to be responsive. My impression was that they were doing CPR.”

Medics put the stretcher into the ambulance. Paramedics worked on Watership for several minutes before the ambulance left for the hospital just one street away, Servaites said.

“A little bit after that they brought the dog out and the dog was clearly dead,” he said.

A cat was also recovered from the house and given oxygen. Its condition is unknown.

Watership formerly was an associate at Acadia Veterinary Hospital, where she began work in 2011. Prior to that, she spent six years as the chief of staff at a large emergency veterinary hospital in North Carolina. She was also the chief veterinarian for a wildlife conservation center there.

The incident is under investigation by the state Fire Marshall’s office, and local police.

Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor Fire Departments provided mutual aid in the fire response.

This story was updated at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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