RANGELEY PLANTATION — A fire that heavily damaged the main lodge at Stephen Phillips Memorial Preserve on Tuesday night has been ruled accidental, Rangeley Fire Chief Tim Pellerin said Friday.

The fire that began in the kitchen was caused by a leaking propane line that ignited the pilot light behind the refrigerator, he said. The building has no electricity but is powered by a generator and uses gas lamps for lighting.

Pellerin said he determined that the fire started behind the gas stove and refrigerator, which are side-by-side. The propane line runs to both appliances through a T-valve, he said.

Pellerin called in a state fire investigator and state heating and gas inspector to determine the exact cause.

Firefighters responded at about 6 p.m. to the fire that had spread to the second-floor loft of a log cabin that is used as the main office. It had closed for the day and someone going to get a kayak noticed smoke coming from the building.

Firefighters put the fire out in about 20 minutes and contained it to the loft and kitchen and prevented it from spreading to four other rooms, Pellerin previously said.


The building is structurally sound but unusable.

Firefighters were able to save some items, including the cash box and campsite reservation forms, but some of the historical items that hung on the walls were lost.

The preserve remains operational.

Pellerin estimated the damage at about $100,000.

It is up to the insurance company to determine if the main lodge can be restored, he said.


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