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Frankie's Garage in Owls Head destroyed by fire

Fireballs shoot several stories into the air; firefighters struggle with water shortage
By Daniel Dunkle | Feb 10, 2013
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle Frankie's Garage on Route 73 in Owls Head burns down Feb. 10.

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

Fire in Owls Head
(Video by: Daniel Dunkle)
A firefighter is silhouetted against the flames as Frankie's Garage in Owls Head burns down Feb. 10. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Garage bays are first reduced to glowing skeletons and then leveled as the fire advances. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Earlier in the effort to contain the blaze, the Frankie's Garage sign could still be read. It would eventually be eaten away by flames. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
A fireball rises into the sky above utility lines as Frankie's Garage in Owls Head burns down Feb. 10. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Fire pours out of garage bays at Frankie's in Owls Head. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Fire spreads through the entire building. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Comments (16)
Posted by: Ann Marie Lalley | Feb 12, 2013 10:40

Cecil, you were always so accommodating and easy to do business with.  I know my vehicles were in good hands. Hope you can rebuild! The community needs you.

Posted by: joe burch | Feb 11, 2013 13:33

sorry for your lose cecil and sherry. the community needs you. time to rebuild. good luck

Posted by: Steve Waterman | Feb 11, 2013 12:22

Terrible loss to one of the 'honest' mechanics in the area. Cecil will survive this and come back even stronger. Best of luck to you and Sherry

Posted by: Dorothy G. Rausch | Feb 11, 2013 09:28

Cecil, Sherry and family, I'm so sorry, hope you will be able to rebuild.

Posted by: KRISTE A. ERNEST | Feb 11, 2013 08:44

We moved up in 1996, and always went to Frankie's.  Such a loss to the community and a part of Owl's Head history gone.  My thoughts go out to Cecil and his family, who always did business with good humor and a smile.  I hope you can rebuild.

Posted by: Joanne Kenney | Feb 11, 2013 06:33

Cecil, our thoughts are with you and your family - you have built a great business  - we hope you will rebuild!!!  Gary and Cookie Kenney



Posted by: Billi J Robbins | Feb 10, 2013 23:22


Posted by: Debra Damon | Feb 10, 2013 22:19

I'm also sorry for Sheila Salo Polky, Bob Salo, June Webber, and young Frankie Salo because they lost memories of their Fathers business.


Posted by: terry lee morang | Feb 10, 2013 21:12

so sorry, cecil and family my dad always did business there.


Posted by: Rosemary P. Stuart-Libbey | Feb 10, 2013 20:53

This is a real shame Cecil ... please know that the thoughts and prayers of many are with you and your family tonight.

Posted by: Leonard Lookner | Feb 10, 2013 20:51

The loss of a landmark and piece of history.  I always enjoyed going by Frankies it brought back memories of my youth and the smell of engine oil.

Posted by: Debra L Whittier | Feb 10, 2013 20:47

This is so sad - my father bought my brother his first car from Frankie Salo.  A silver CHEVELLE with a black hard top.  What i wouldn't give if that car was still in the family.  Many nice memories of Frankie and Muriel Salo.  Sincere thoughts go out to Cecil and family on such a profound loss.

Posted by: Debra Damon | Feb 10, 2013 20:32

Cecil and Sherry and family, thinking of you tonight. So sorry for your loss, you've worked so hard Cecil to have this business.


Posted by: Valerie Wass | Feb 10, 2013 20:27

Thoughts are with Cecil and his family and also many who have been patron's there.  This is so sad to read and see.  A great loss not only for Owl's Head but also for the surrounding communities.

Posted by: Melinda Lindsey | Feb 10, 2013 18:07

That is such a shame to have this happen


Posted by: Laurel E Taylor | Feb 10, 2013 18:03

Cecil, so sorry to hear of this. Kelli and I are thinking of you.


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