RANGELEY PLANTATION — A fire heavily damaged the main lodge of the remote Stephen Phillips Memorial Preserve on Stephens Road early Tuesday night, Rangeley Fire Chief Tim Pellerin said Wednesday.

A state fire investigator is expected at the site Wednesday to try to determine the cause.

“At this point, nothing indicates it is suspicious and (it) appears to be accidental,” he said.

Pellerin estimated that the fire caused about $100,000 in damage. It is owned by a Massachusetts resident and was insured, he said.

The fire started in the kitchen and spread to the second-floor loft of a log cabin that is used as the main office. The preserve offers wilderness camping on Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Pellerin said.

The building has no electricity, is powered by a gas generator and uses gas lamps for lighting, he said.


The office was closed and someone saw smoke coming out of the eaves and a pipe, he said.

It was reported at about 6 p.m.

More than 23 firefighters from the Rangeley Fire Rescue Department responded, along with 10 firefighters from Phillips. Eustis Fire Department personnel stood by at Rangeley’s station.

When firefighters arrived, there was heavy fire in the building, Pellerin said. The whole second floor was engulfed. There was no water available, so they used about 800 gallons of water from the trucks to extinguish the fire.

Once they could enter the building, firefighters knocked down the fire in 20 minutes.

There were no injuries, despite the heat and high humidity. NorthStar EMS ambulance personnel were on the scene to take care of firefighters.


The building is structurally sound but unusable at this time. Firefighters contained the fire to the kitchen and loft and prevented it from spreading to four other rooms, Pellerin said.

They removed the cash box, campsite reservation forms and charts of who was staying at each campsite, he said. Among items lost, he said, are historical pictures and charts that hung on the walls.

Items that were saved were moved to a barn on the property.

“We were able to save a fair amount of stuff,” Pellerin said.

The preserve is still operational, he said.

A message on the preserve’s telephone said that they are not taking new reservations at this time because of the fire, but if people already had reservations they could still go to the preserve.


Representatives of the preserve were not immediately available for comment.

Pellerin praised all firefighters who responded for working as a team to put out the fire.

“I can’t say enough about them,” he said. “The teamwork and training all paid off. I am so very, very blessed to have such a great crew up here.”

The preserve is located at the end of the Bemis Track, he said. 

The preserve encompasses more than 6,000 acres and offers 4 miles of lake shore.  A board of trustees oversees the preserve to keep it in a natural state. It is available to the public for primitive camping, picnicking, fishing, nature study and similar activities, according to the preserve’s website at www.stephenphillipswildernesscamping.com.


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