Frigid Fire Fighting is Nothing New for the Bangor Fire Department
It was a brutal Thursday night in January, back in 2004, when Bangor fire fighters were called out in subzero temperatures for a report of smoke coming from the Bangor Masonic Hall building at the corner of Main and Water Streets. I vividly remember that night turning my scanner off for the evening thinking it would be a terrible night for any of the first responders who might be called out.
That’s when my phone rang and a friend, who was a fellow news broadcaster at the time, said, “I don’t know if you want to know, but there’s a fire downtown.” I waited a few minutes, shuddering at the thought of going outside, and then I turned my scanner back on and made the call. When the dispatcher said, “Susan you may want to come out for this,” I knew I needed to bundle up and was dreading the exposure to the cold.
When I got to the scene fire truck horns were blaring and air tank alarms on the fire fighter’s backs were warning them to clear the building. That’s when I noticed their uniforms were frozen, and those men with beards and mustaches were collecting icicles on their facial hair. The streets and side walks on the city block were treacherous underfoot and the fire hoses seemed like massive snow guns as the stubborn fire refused to be extinguished.
It was the lead story for all news outlets for certain as irreplaceable artifacts collected by the Masons were destroyed along with other businesses like Yankee Shoe Repair located on the ground floor. This fire raged on for hours yet remarkably, injuries sustained were minimal. The structural integrity of the building, because of the extreme heat on the inside and cold on the outside, worried fire fighters who were concerned the building might collapse uncontrollably, threatening other buildings and people downtown. A crane was eventually brought in to knock the building down.