Frankie's Garage in Owls Head destroyed by fireFireballs shoot several stories into the air; firefighters struggle with water shortage
Owls Head — When Melinda Polky went to park her car at the auto repair garage her grandfather started in the 1950s she noticed flames coming out of an oil furnace in the third garage bay.
It was Sunday afternoon, Feb. 10, at Frankie's Garage on Weskeag Road and she rushed across the street to call 911. Fire departments from Owls Head, South Thomaston, Rockland and St. George arrived at the scene shortly, but the fire destroyed the garage while a number of neighbors watched.
No one was injured, according to Owls Head Fire Chief Frank Ross. The fire department got the call at 3:39 p.m., he said. About 48 firefighters responded.
Firefighters struggled throughout the effort due to a lack of a nearby water source.
South Thomaston Fire Chief Bryan Calderwood explained that there are no fire hydrants on that part of the road, which also serves as Route 73.
Ross said a hydrant near the grange has no pressure, adding the town's water lines were designed for drinking water not firefighting.
The garage is owned by Cecil Fogg and was founded by the late Frank Salo.
Family members said several vehicles were lost in the blaze. A restored 1966 Mustang, a Nova and an Impala were believed to be lost. These were believed to be personal vehicles of owners and family members.
Also lost were three Harley Davidson motorcycles, a Camero and an antique tow truck, Ross reported.
"It's horrible," Polky said.
As materials in the building exploded, fireballs could be seen shooting into the sky. A black pillar of smoke could be seen high above the blaze. Some of the explosions may have come as the fire heated sealed drums of waste oil. Ross said he spotted four 55-gallon barrels of the oil.
The Maine State Fire Marshal's Office has determined the fire started in a waste oil burner. Neighbors from across the street had seen the fire in the burner and taken pictures through a window in the front door.
One neighbor from the nearby private road, Owls Head Lane, asked the firefighters if there was a threat of it spreading to her home. As the effort went on, firefighters walked up the road to inspect the situation while reinforcements with more water were called in. Some trees near the garage could be seen burning.
Frankie's Garage has worked on large trucks and inspected Rockland school buses for several years. Family members said some of the fire trucks at the scene of the fire were inspected there.
Ross said the building was insured and the owner plans to rebuild. A member of the community has offered the business the use of another garage in the meantime.
Courier Publications Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.