PHILLIPS — A fast-moving fire reduced the town’s 2010 International plow truck to charred rubble Wednesday. The driver was not injured.

Public Works employee Matt Stevens was plowing the remote East Madrid Road when he saw the flames shooting from the hood of the double-axle wheeler, Town Manager Elaine Hubbard said. Stevens, also an experienced firefighter for the Strong Fire Department, could not get a cellphone signal but was able to reach the Franklin County dispatch center on his fire department radio, she said.

“I am so glad Matt wasn’t hurt,” Hubbard said. “He did try to extinguish the fire, but it was too big and too hot.”

All trucks are equipped with fire extinguishers, but the fire spread too quickly, she said. The truck appears to be a total loss, and that compounds problems facing the highway department, she said.

Selectman Ray Gaudette said one of the town’s sanding trucks blew an engine last month and buying a rebuilt engine will be expensive. He said he hoped residents would understand any delays in plowing, sanding or fixing road problems until the town finds a replacement.

Without the usual four trucks and a spare vehicle, Gaudette said he’s hoping the town won’t be hit with more bad weather.


“The insurance adjuster will tell us what we can expect,” Gaudette said. “We are also making calls to other towns to see if we can borrow a plow if we need to.”

He said selectmen planned to meet with Hubbard and Road Commissioner Ward Bredeau to plan a course of action.

The town still owes approximately $58,000 on the loan they secured to purchase the 2010 truck, he said, and buying a used plow truck would be “buying someone else’s problems.”

Voters at a town meeting will have to approve money to purchase another vehicle. The cost to buy the 2010 truck depleted the town’s reserve account, so there’s little left for a down payment.

“The single-axle we bought was $160,000,” Gaudette said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a price of $175,000 and up for another new truck with everything on it.”

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