SOUTHWEST HARBOR—A fire, believed to be started by lightning, destroyed part of an office building owned by Hinckley Yachts on Saturday.
Thick smoke on Shore Road was reported just after 3 p.m. during a fast-moving thunderstorm. It was coming from a three-story house that serves as the offices for about six employees at the company.
“We had a firefighter on scene in about five minutes,” said Fire Chief Tom Chisholm in a conversation with the Islander. “We were able to have water on the fire in 10 minutes.”
No one was in the building at the time the fire started. Located at the intersection of Shore Road and Mansell Lane, the three-story building is where the company’s technical equipment, records and historic documents are kept, according to Chisholm.
“There were irreplaceable records and models from when Hinckley got started,” he added.
“All records survived without any problem,” Jad Dow, a service manager at Hinckley, told the Islander. “It was a technological loss more than anything else. Everything was backed up at other sites. It could have been much worse.”
Units from all four fire departments on Mount Desert Island responded to the fire with about 45 firefighters active in working to get it under control.
“I was impressed with how the local departments worked together,” said Dow, adding that a couple of the mechanics at Hinckley are volunteers on the fire department.
Trenton Volunteer Fire Department and Northeast Harbor Ambulance manned the Somesville fire station while others were on site. It took about an hour to quench the blaze and get to the point of clearing the scene.
“We had fire showing from the roof when I showed up,” said Chisholm. “Usually if that’s the case, it doesn’t end well because it has that much of a jump on you.”
Two members of the volunteer fire department went into the building and made their way to the third floor. Chisholm said it was so hot that several fluorescent light fixtures had melted.
“We were very tactful,” he added. “We didn’t open any windows. Any time you open windows up, you feed the fire.”
Instead, they extended a ladder from the outside to the top of the building and cut a hole in the roof to give the fire a specific path to travel.
“I believe that’s 100 percent the reason there’s still a roof on it,” said Chisholm. “Our training paid off.”