Fort Kent residents ask town for emergency route into trailer park after fire

1 week ago

FORT KENT, Maine – Over a dozen residents living in a Fort Kent trailer park where a fire occurred last week attended a town council meeting Monday night asking officials to consider establishing an alternate route into the park for emergency personnel.

The fire, which was caused by sparklers, spread quickly and resulted in the total loss of a home. All residents were unharmed, however two dogs and a cat did not survive.

Vehicles can only enter the park via Brookside Drive, which can be accessed off Market Street and Charette Hill Road. The park contains multiple sharp corners, making it difficult for emergency personnel to respond to an incident occurring at the opposite end of the entrance.

Residents asked if the town could consider establishing a crossing on a nearby railroad track for emergency access. The track runs parallel to the park, and if the crossing could be used in emergencies, it would give firefighters and police much easier access during emergencies where every second counts.

One resident explained how the current route includes turns that need to be navigated slowly and cautiously, as there are typically children playing outside. When fires do occur in the trailer park, she said that time is of the essence, as trailers in the park are close together, increasing the chances of one fire spreading to multiple homes.

“We are all worried, because if one house ignites there, there’s a very close chance that the other house goes,’’ she said. “Some of our homes have outside oil tanks. If that happens, the entire neighborhood goes up on that side.”

Another resident said he lives directly behind the house that burned down. He said he could feel the heat from the fire while he was in his kitchen.

“If the wind was blowing in a different direction, my house would have been gone,” he said. “And I have over a half a tank of fuel that is externally mounted on my house, so that would have been even more treacherous.”

Councilors thanked the residents for bringing the matter to their attention. Town Manager Suzie Paradis said they would begin talks with the property owner, the Department of Transportation, and the railroad to see what can be done.

Councilor Jake Robichaud said that the commercial institutions affected by this would most likely all be willing to cooperate, and that this ultimately comes down to their discussion with the property owner.

“That’s the first step,” Paradis said. “And it probably won’t happen overnight, because anything involving other entities takes a little longer. But we’ll try to get this moving forward.”