Fire destroys Manchester house on Cobbossee Lake

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MANCHESTER – The only thing still standing from a house on Milliken Lane was the stone chimney after a fire burned it to the ground on Tuesday morning.

The home has frontage on Cobbossee Lake.

Hallowell Fire Chief James Owens said the fire was burning itself out upon his arrival around 9:45 a.m.

Manchester firefighter Theodore Marshall was the highest ranking member of that department on the scene.

“We got here, saw it on fire and tried to put it out,” he said.

Owens said nobody was home when they arrived, something property owner Jean Griffis confirmed to Marshall when she later arrived on the scene.

Ben Sechrist, a friend of Griffis’s from Manchester, said he received the call and frantically tried to locate the owner.

“I’ve been coming here since I was 15,” he said. “I’m just glad they’re alive.”

Griffis said she had a fire last night and, when she and her friend Mike Kolodny left this morning, it could have still been smoldering.

She said the home was more than 100 years old and has always been owned by a member of her family.

“It was built when my dad was 5 and he was born in 1913.” Griffis said.

Sechrist, who has visited the property for decades, said the building was a “quintessential Maine camp.”

“You can’t replace a 107-year-old (house) that your grandfather built,” he said. “But you can’t replace her either.”

Sechrist said the camp was filled with heirlooms and memories.

“(Griffis’s) mother shot the biggest deer shot in Maine one year and that was mounted on the wall,” he said.

The building was insured, Griffis said, but not for the value it would cost to rebuild.

The biggest concern for firefighters was a propane tank near the building, which Owens said was venting and could have ruptured. Marshall confirmed that crews were wary about it.

Crews from Augusta, Hallowell, Gardiner, West Gardiner, Manchester, Readfield and Vienna, and emergency medical technicians from Winthrop responded to the call.

Central Maine Power workers arrived to cut power and left around 10 a.m.

A motorboat was on a trailer beside the remains of the building, and there were people in boats watching the scene unfold from the lake.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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