Lightning strikes Harrison barn


HARRISON — As lightning strikes peppered the early morning sky, Tim Labounty had a bad feeling when he saw an orange glow just a short distance from his Naples Road home.

“I got in my truck and headed in this direction,” said Labounty, who operates Eagle Eye Maintenance. “It didn’t take long for me to realize what was happening. If I wanted a good example of what hell looks like, I saw it.”

When Labounty arrived at 101 Town Farm Road last Friday morning, he saw flames shooting into the sky as fire ripped through a barn and ell at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Boole.

Labounty, who has been the property’s caretaker, was “devastated” to see the inferno, which leveled the barn and caused significant damage to the home. Heat from the fire melted the rims off a car and truck parked near the barn, leaving a pool of metal next to the vehicles.

The Booles escaped without injury. Luckily, Robert had awakened to use the bathroom when he smelled smoke at about 2:20 a.m., Labounty said. The elderly couple, who also reside in Arizona, had stored their valuables in a suitcase, and were able to retrieve it quickly as they vacated the home, which was built in the early 1800s. The couple then called 9-1-1 for help.

A lightning strike triggered the blaze. Labounty found a piece of the metal roofing, which had a significant hole in it likely caused by the strike.

Firefighters from over a dozen departments responded to the emergency. With the large barn fully engulfed, firefighters concentrated their efforts on trying to save the home. Water was transported to the scene by tanker trucks since the nearest hydrant is reportedly over a mile away. Fire damaged the attic and second floor walls. Labounty said the couple plans to rebuild.

In the meantime, the Booles are staying with their daughter, who has a summer home on Sebago Lake, Labounty said.

As of Saturday afternoon, puffs of smoke continued to emit from where the barn once stood.

“Firefighters continue to check on the place,” Labounty said.

Labounty said the couple always looks forward to spending time in Maine each year. He recalls phone conversations, which the Booles had started a countdown to when they would arrive at the Town Farm Road home.

“They just love it here,” Labounty said as he looked out over the expansive field behind the home, which includes stonewalls and a view of Long Lake in the distance. “You can see why.”