January 30, 2013

Wheelchair-equipped van catches fire in Litchfield

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

LITCHFIELD -- A wheelchair-equipped van was gutted by fire late Wednesday afternoon as it was being worked on in a Litchfield garage.

William Kelley, owner of B-K Auto, at 2290 Hallowell Road, said the van was in the garage when the fire started, but two men pushed it out the garage doors.

He said the workers were trying to get the heat operating in the rear of the van when one man saw flames coming up from under the hood.

Kelley said he was upstairs in his living quarters when he heard hollering and came down to find the garage filled with smoke.

The fire, which caused no injuries, burned the front of the building, which Kelley has owned for eight years.

Fire Chief Stan Labbe said firefighters were able to confine the blaze to the van and to the building's exterior, where the vinyl siding melted from the heat and the doors were charred.

"Gardiner's aerial (truck) is going up to be sure the fire's not in the cables," Labbe said, as firefighters were still on the scene.

A couple of hours after the fire was extinguished, Kelley said he had talked with his insurance carrier and was on the computer searching for a permanent replacement wheelchair van for the customer. For the near future, a rental van would be provided.

"It needs to be heavy-duty with an 800-pound lift," Kelley said.

He said he expected to be open for business as usual today and was hoping to get the building aired out.

Fire departments from Gardiner, West Gardiner, Monmouth and Wales responded to assist Litchfield firefighters.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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