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Early this morning, the city of Portland, Maine was busy. Within a few minutes and all within a few blocks of each other 8 or 9 cars burst into flames. Three buildings -- at least one apartment building -- became involved and more than 20 people are left without their home and belongings. Fortunately, there are no reported injuries.
At 4am my fire pager went off with a Box 700 for Ladder 7 and Squad 1 (our heavy rescue) to cover Portland for their 3rd alarm fire. This happens a couple of times a year. While Ladder 7 isn't my truck, both our officers on that truck are also city of Portland firefighters so on a 3 bagger they're already supposed to be going in for that job. That means I end up the officer in charge of our Ladder truck as it goes to cover for Portland's Ladder 4. Its one of those honors that's good and bad at the same time. In theory I and my crew are trained and ready to deal with whatever we need to in the city. In practice, the buildings are bigger and older with multiple occupancies and closer together than we see out in the burbs. Its one of those cases where you hope you get a run and you hope you don't get a run at the same time.
Anyway, once the sun came up, the cars stopped bursting into flames and things settle down. Police are investigating on the off chance that arson may have been involved, while scientists and engineers are looking into the use of sun-lamp bulbs in streetlights or some other way to get more sunlight to the cars during the night as that seems to keep them from burning.
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