Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Remembering the Great Maine Fires of 1947

The Camp Fire in Northern California stirred up this memory. In October and November, 1947, huge swathes of land, about 19 towns, 200,000 acres of timber land burned to the ground in a series of fires that burned through Maine from inland to the ocean in what is called The Great Fires of 47. 20 or so people died, but remember Maine was sparsely populated 70 years ago. I remember it now because my grandfather, Lawrence Stone Ireland, lost everything on my brother John’s birthday. His end of Goose Rocks Beach burned to the ground as high winds pushed the fire into the Atlantic. He was the chief of the volunteer fire department and had been on the front lines of the fire fight for almost a month. When the Saco (or Kennebunk) fire turned towards the north end of beach, his house keeper, Mrs. Kate, escaped but had no time to gather any of Gramp’s things.