News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 25, 2012
Structure burns in Penobscot; bomb squad called in
Occupant arrested for obstruction

Firefighters from the Penobscot and Sedgwick

Above, firefighters from the Penobscot and Sedgwick maintain a close watch on a fire at 141 Southern Bay Road on Monday, October 22. Shortly thereafter, a grenade was found inside the structure, prompting a call to the Maine State Police Bomb Squad, who safely detonated the bomb.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant and Faith DeAmbrose

Members of the Penobscot Fire Department responded to a garage fire at the home of Alan Jr. and Ruthann Eaton, 141 Southern Bay Road shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday, October 22.

During the course of the emergency response, Alan Eaton Jr. was arrested and later charged with obstructing government administration, according to Ellsworth District Court records.

Shortly after the flames were doused, a grenade was found, prompting the immediate area to be cleared of emergency personnel and a call to the Maine State Police Bomb Squad.

“Once we noticed the grenade,” said Penobscot Fire Chief Dennis Robertson, “we backed everyone off but continued to shoot water [into the smoking structure] from a distance.”

The grenade was removed by the Maine State Police Bomb Squad and brought to a nearby gravel pit, owned by Jamie Gross, where it was detonated. According to Robertson, the grenade was wrapped with explosives in order to ensure detonation. “It exploded, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it was live ammo,” said Robertson.

Initially, the call came through to the department at 2:50 p.m., said Robertson. Those first to the scene were able to knock the fire down, and keep it from spreading to the nearby home. “Exposure of the house [to the fire] was a concern, but never an issue,” said Robertson.

Shortly after arriving on site, Robertson said, “we noticed some rather suspicious stuff,” and the state Fire Marshal’s Office was called.

The cause of the fire is undetermined and still under investigation, said Assistant State Fire Marshall Rich McCarthy.

For Robertson this was the second call he has been on in a number of months. The fire chief, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, has been receiving treatments for the past few months and while he reported being slightly tired the next day, he said that those on the scene made sure he was okay at all times.

The Blue Hill, Brooksville and Sedgwick fire departments assisted fire fighting at the scene.