Falmouth farmer loses home, equipment, keepsakes to fire

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FALMOUTH — A local farmer said his only option is to rebuild after fire destroyed his home and garage on Hurricane Road just before 2:30 a.m. Feb. 5.

No one was hurt in the blaze, but farm equipment was destroyed and two cats remained unaccounted for this week.

Doug Shores, owner of Wilshore Farm at 85 Hurricane Road, said he was sleeping next door at his girlfriend’s home when he woke and saw the fire.

“I woke up to see the flames roaring from the house to the garage,” Shores said. “I just have to pick up and carry on.”

The cause of the fire is unknown, Fire-EMS Chief Howard Rice Jr. said this week.

“On arrival, the house was completely engulfed in flames,” Rice said. He said the fire appeared to be headed toward the nearest barn, so firefighters focused their efforts there.

He said the fire went to a third alarm within minutes.

The fire was called in by a public works employee who was out plowing, and first responders arrived quickly, because they lived close by.

There were no hydrants nearby, so tankers were brought in from Windham, Gray, North Yarmouth, Freeport and Cumberland to help a Falmouth tanker shuttle water from a hydrant about a mile away. A second water source came from a hydrant in Cumberland, Rice said, and Portland sent a ladder truck.

Shores, 52, said the fire destroyed three cars, and a lot of tools and equipment, including a large farm tractor he needs for making hay.

Wilshore was a dairy farm until 2012, and since has been a hay farm. Shores said his family bought the farm in 1970, when he was 7 years old.

He said the biggest loss from the fire were the mementos it destroyed, including every photo of his mother, trophies he won racing cars, and that his father had won for showing cattle. He said he and family and friends had recently had a memorial for his mother in the house, which is why all her photos were there.

She died three days after Christmas.

“Those are what you don’t get back,” Shores said.

Shores said the state fire marshall’s office indicated the cause of the fire might never be known. He said by the time crews were able to respond the fire was “really roaring.”

“The structure was still here, but there were flames inside from one end to the other,” he said.

Rice agreed that the cause would be difficult to determine because of the extensive damage.

“To get going like that it had to be burning for a while,” he said.

Police Lt. John Kilbride said his department is not involved in the investigation because nothing suspicious seemed to have occurred.

Rice credited a large snowbank for saving Wilshore’s barns from the fire. He said the snow acted as an insulator between the fire and barns.

“If that snow wasn’t there, there’s a good chance those barns wouldn’t be there when we got there. It was a good fire stop, it saved the barns, I’m pretty sure of that,” he said.

The fire was put out within an hour, Rice said, but crews remained on the seen until roughly 8 a.m. He said 32 members of his own department came to the scene, and the mutual aid response was part of a “great team effort.” He said they were able to rotate crews to keep them warm on during, the cold snowy night.

“We focused on saving the barns,” Rice said. “When you arrive with that much fire, there was nothing we were going to do to save the house.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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The charred remains of a car and tractor at Wilshore Farm, 85 Hurricane Road in Falmouth, where a fire Feb. 5 destroyed a house and garage.

Owner Doug Shores was at his girlfriend’s home next door when he saw the fire at Wilshore Farms. Public works employees first notified Falmouth Fire-EMS of the blaze shortly before 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 5.

Also lost in the fire were family mementos that Doug Shores said are the things “you don’t get back.”

The cause of the fire at 85 Hurricane Road is unknown.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.