Remembering the Great Fire

Adrienne DiPiazza

Updated 12 months ago


“It was like a bad dream…. Scary thing you know not knowing what you’re going to do how the children were going to react cause it was all so everybody was just numb,” said Florence Ames.

Florence Ames remembers the year 1947. It was this week nearly 70 years ago that she watched her home of Bar Harbor burn.

“I had all the doors and windows open because it was so warm but I finally had the close them because the smoke was getting bad at that point,” Ames said.

There hadn’t been rain for months, strong winds pushed the fire to Bar Harbor and thousands evacuated by car, and others by boat.

“It was very chaotic they had to call in the national guard to help out, the navy, it was quite an ordeal I imagine,” says Fire Prevention Specialist, Kent Nelson.

“They were all lined up along the side of the road with hoses because it was just red coals on both sides of the road,” explained Ames.

When Florence and her family returned to their home on Forest Street, what she found was devastating, everything she had was lost.

“This was flat. But this was all burned out here,” Ames said.

The wildfires that year blackened more than 200,000 acres state wide.

“We didn’t have a predicted class day back then,” explained Nelson.

Fire conditions today are eerily similar.

“The class day for today is 3, which is high which means there’s a chance that a fire could escape due to the winds,” said Nelson.

Florence says today feels like it did back in 1947.

“Well it isn’t that dry this year thank goodness for that.”

Today fire prevention technology has progressed greatly. It was nearly a month before the great fire was declared out.


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