Updated Nov. 21
SOUTHWEST HARBOR—An evening fire last Wednesday destroyed a home at 408 Seawall Road and sent the owner, Paula L. Dunbar, to the hospital.
Dunbar was later transported by Lifeflight helicopter ambulance to Portland due to the severity of her injuries. She is currently in recovery at Maine Medical Center’s Burn Unit in Portland, and will need surgeries for severe burns, according to one friend’s report on Facebook. She is expected to be there through Thanksgiving weekend.
Around 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 a call came in to the police department about a house on fire on Seawall Road. An officer and a captain of the town’s volunteer fire department who lives near the reported address, went to confirm the call and check the building for people, according to Fire Chief Tom Chisholm.
Two dogs perished in the fire, according to reports.
Firefighters from Tremont and Southwest Harbor arrived at the burning house at the same time and immediately began fighting the flames with three water hoses. A hydrant located across the street from the fire kept the tankers supplied with water.
“It was very well involved when we showed up,” said Chisholm. “Luckily it wasn’t the middle of summer when it’s really dry… As we were flowing water, it was freezing to the ground.”
Nearly 50 responders from the departments around the island and Trenton were on scene, Chisholm said. Some manned the station in Somesville to cover other emergency calls.
Ambulance services from Southwest Harbor, Bar Harbor and Mount Desert were at the fire. A firefighter was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
Crews were at the Seawall address until 2:30 a.m. for the first fire report. Another call came into the police department at 4 a.m. reporting a flare-up that one neighbor said was as aggressive as the primary fire. An aerial device was used to dowse the remaining flames and smoldering hot spots. At 5:45 a.m. the last person reported leaving the scene, according to Chisholm.
“It was just one of those labor intensive fires,” he said. “My hat’s off to everybody who was there.”
There is yellow police tape surrounding the property that is littered with burned vehicles, lots of split firewood, building tools and other items.
According to Sergeant Scott Richardson of the State Fire Marshall’s Office, the closest determination they are able to make is that the fire was started by something electrical within the home. Richardson said the damage was so extensive the determination is speculation but the investigation has been closed.
The Southwest Harbor Police Department was also involved in the investigation. State officials are still trying to contact Dunbar regarding the investigation, but have been unsuccessful, Richardson said.
A “Help Paula Dunbar” Facebook fundraiser has been set up and more than $15,000 has been raised.