‘Like a burrito’

Twenty years ago this month when he was called up for duty in the Maine Army National Guard for the 1998 ice storm recovery, one of Master Sgt. Michael Wall’s jobs had him clearing trees off power lines around Bangor.

He had the right protective gear and was skilled with a chain saw, but the inches of ice everywhere made for very dangerous work.

“They didn’t behave like a normal tree would when you were felling it,” Wall said. “That ice was so prolific in areas, it put an unnatural load on the tree.”

If a tree looked like it should fall to the right, it would heave left, “or in some instances, there was so much weight on these larger trees, that when you would initially start your cut, the base of the tree would almost literally explode and go flying in whatever direction,” he said.

He damaged two saws, one quite memorably.

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“I had one instance where the tree kicked back,” Wall said. “I got out of the way, but it caught the saw and it took the bar — the extension that comes out with the blade on it — and it folded it length-wise like a burrito. That’s a solid piece of steel and it folded it right up. We kept it hanging up in the platoon area for years thereafter, (because) you just don’t see that.”

— Kathryn Skelton

‘Tackle him, Russ!’

This time, Russ Dillingham didn’t have to step in.

The Sun Journal photographer, fresh back from vacation, videotaped the arrest of a suspect in downtown Lewiston on Friday morning that quickly went viral on the web.

As Russ shot his footage from Shawmut Street, the suspect attempted to escape police by punching his way through a window screen.

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The scene was reminiscent of an incident in 2007 in which Russ tackled a runaway suspect who had slipped away from police seconds before.

Russ’s heroics in 2007 brought him national fame. The story was picked up by all of the big news networks and the photographer was invited to a few studios to talk about his bravery and such.

A year later, Russ was named Maine’s Journalist of the Year.

It looked like history might repeat itself Friday morning on Shawmut Street. As the drama unfolded and Russ stood in the snow, camera in hand, a veteran Lewiston police officer rolled up next to him in a cruiser.

“Looking for somebody to tackle, Russ?” the cop asked.

It didn’t happen, though. This time, the police nabbed their fugitive just before he could dash into the waiting arms of the Sun Journal photographer. Which is probably for the best.

Have you seen the arms on Russ Dillingham? Like pythons!

– Mark LaFlamme


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