Crews respond to Appleton house fire

APPLETON — A poorly placed chimney led to a close call in Appleton on April 5, according to Appleton Fire Chief David Stone.

Stone said April 6 that the call first came to his department as a chimney fire, but when he arrived on the scene it was much more than that.

At 3 p.m. a call went out for mutual aid. Members of fire departments from the towns of Hope and Searsmont, as well as the Union Ambulance Service, joined 10 Appleton firefighters in the two-and-a-half-hour effort that ended with the fire being subdued.

Stone said a fire in the wood stove spread to a board next to the chimney.

“It was too close to the wall,” he said of the chimney. “It got too hot.”

Stone said the fire destroyed an interior wall, as well as part of the ceiling and an upstairs floor. He said the only other damage was to a window that firefighters broke to provide ventilation so the heat and smoke could escape the structure.

“It’s not livable right now, but I’d say the structure itself is savable,” Stone said.

He said the family pets, a bird and two dogs, were safely removed from the house.

“We got there in time,” Stone said. “Another five or ten minutes and it would have been a whole different story. It was an old structure, not built to code.” He said the fire might not have been caught in time if it had happened at night and those inside had been sleeping.

Stone cautioned residents to have their chimneys inspected and make sure they meet current building codes before wood is burned.

Camden Fire Department kept busy with chimney fires

CAMDEN — The Camden Fire Department responded to two chimney fires and one furnace malfunction this past week. On March 30, firefighters extinguished an evening chimney fire on Pearl Street, with the fire contained to the chimney. On April 2, firefighters were called again to a chimney fire, this time on Branch Street, where flames were appearing from the top of the chimney. The fire department extinguished that fire and then chained the chimney, which was plugged with creosote. On March 31, firefighters responded to reports of a smoky basement on Jim Brown Road. There, a damper had fallen off the furnace, causing the basement to fill with smoke. The fire department turned off the oil burner and ventilated the basement.

Hope School Committee to meet April 12

HOPE — The Hope School Committee will meet Monday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. to address an agenda that includes considering the resignation of French teacher Susan Lewis, considering bids for mowing, hearing an update from the regional planning committee (see below), and discussing the proposed 2010-2011 budget. The committee will also enter executive session to discuss teacher contract negotiations.

Camden Harbor, Energy committees discuss grants, wind

CAMDEN — Camden’s Harbor Committee will hold a special meeting Thursday, April 15 at 7:30 a.m. with the posted purpose of discussing grant possibilities. On that same date at 4 p.m., the town’s Budget Nominating Committee will meet to nominate new members for the Budget Committee.

The next meeting of the Camden Energy Committee has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 19. The committee will dedicate most of the meeting to a presentation by Community Wind Vice President George Baker. Subsequent meetings of the Energy Committee are planned for the first Monday of the month.

Five town school reorganization committee gets to work

ROCKPORT — The Five Town Reorganization Planning Committee, charged with consolidating kindergarten through grade 12 for the towns of Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport, met April 1 to begin scheduling meeting dates and reviewing three organization options. Members include Liz Sullivan, Don Burke, Dan Wyman, Tori Manzi, John French, Lisa Ettinger, Rick Bresnahan, Kristi Bagnall, Marty Cooper, Edmund Hartt, Stacey Parra, Michael Kosowsky, Marcia Dietrich, Sharon Walker-Spencer and Tom Farley, as well as administrators David Wiggin, Mike Weatherwax and Pat Hopkins. Under consideration are the models of regional school units and alternate organizational structures, or not consolidating at all. According to meeting minutes, the two have different governance structures, with an RSU incorporating one school board comprising representatives elected from the communities, and an AOS having five or six different school boards, with possibly one umbrella board overseeing all of them. Topics of future discussion include cost sharing, teacher contract negotiations, and whether to reorganize into one district. Last year, the districts of the five towns did not endorse consolidation and voters turned down the measure, resulting in penalty fees from the Maine Department of Education, penalties that school boards are now incorporating into budgets for next year. Reorganization Planning Committee meeting minutes said penalties may increase and “there is a growing expectation in the communities that we should reorganize (as indicated by recent vote).”

The next meeting of the Reorganization Planning Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, April 27 at 5 p.m. at the Bus Barn in Camden.