News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, August 11, 2022
Mutual Aid called in to help extinguish Surry fire
Need for area firefighters continues

by Maggie White

A neighbor-reported woods fire on Sunup Lane in Surry on Thursday afternoon, August 4, was fully extinguished with no discernible damage done to humans, animals or property.

“It was a resident that had a burn pile the previous day and they hadn’t fully extinguished it. As a result, it reignited and spread quite a bit,” said Surry Fire Chief Bryan McLellan in a phone interview. “It’s a property where the owners were doing some clearing—there was not a structure on the property. Mutual Aid was called to secure the area.”

Mutual Aid is a government program that “is a practical approach to provide emergency service resources in quantities or specialties beyond the means of any single department,” according to McLellan said that firefighters from Blue Hill, Penobscot and Orland arrived on the scene to assist his Surry team.

Drought and lack of volunteers

McLellan advises vigilance because drought conditions continue and area fire departments face staffing shortages.

“None of the departments in the area have a lot of resources. Wild fire burns can quickly get out of control, so it’s important to be sure every fire is fully extinguished,” said McLellan. “It should be cold enough that you can stick your hand in the coals.”

McLellan stated that recent windy conditions preclude daytime burn allowances, though this is not a statewide ordinance. “The Maine Forest Service determines the fire danger of the day—but they don’t take into account the drought we’re in, so their danger is quite a bit lower than what we consider a danger around here right now.”

McLellan added that all area departments are in need of firefighters. Anyone interested in volunteering in Surry should attend the weekly Monday meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the fire station. McLellan has been on the department for a decade and became chief this past March.