A "house warming" wildfire in Steuben welcomes new neighbors

10:58 PM, Jul 11, 2012   |    comments
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STEUBEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When the new family on the block imagined meeting the neighbors, somehow, they didn't see burning trees and helicopters in the picture.

Two weeks after Maddrey Coover and her partner, Frank, moved into their new farm on Smithville Road in Steuben, they were welcomed by wildfire.

"It's one way to meet the neighbors," said Maddrey Coover. "Sometimes you have an open house and barbeque, and sometimes you have a fire."

The Coover's had a visit from a neighborhood girl Wednesday afternoon.

Gina Bybee stopped over to see the animals, and she couldn't have come at a better time.

Petting sheep and horses in the Coover's yard, she was the first to see the flames.

"At first I thought it was a bonfire, but then when it started to spread, I ran inside and told Frank," said Bybee. "I was scared."

That's when Maddrey called on another neighbor, who knew to call the Maine Forest Service.

Forest Rangers began dumping water on the five-acre wildfire with a helicopter around 3:30 p.m.

The Steuben Fire Department and the Millbridge Fire Department assisted.

Because of the fire's remote location, it was difficult to contain.

"It's off of the baseball field and the access is very poor," said Forest Ranger Ryan Maker. "The only access is a skid trail, so it's been very difficult."

It was less difficult to keep Coover's farm animals safe because of all the help from new neighbors.

"Within 15 minutes I would say we had 30 people on the place," said Coover.

"It's just unbelievable. Everybody was here, everybody was ready to help, nobody knew us."

The cause of the wildfire is still under investigation.

Coover said firefighters told her it's possible a lightning strike from last week has been smoldering in the woods and ignited this afternoon.


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