Fighting Fires with Jim Layne & Jayne Britton
(Transcribed from a 2020 interview with Jim Layne and Jayne Britton)
Jim: I was Road Agent for forty years.....I was Fire Warden - State, National, and Town - for forty years, and CD (Civil Defense) Director for about the same number of years. I think I got paid for one or two forest fires, up on Speckled and Deer Hill. The Government pays. The rest of them I never got paid, but I fought 'em. Basin Rim, I might of got paid for Basin Rim too. There were two up there. The Government was in charge of getting people to help, but I went up to help fight it. The ones I was in charge of, the biggest one was Butter Hill. And then, I was in charge on Deer Hill too, that was National Forest, I was National Warden then. And then I started on Speckled, but they took over. Lightning was the cause of the fires. The one on Robbins Ridge, that was probably the worst one. We had to put out the others, but Robbins Ridge – I went home one night and the fire was really blazing. I come back the next morning to fix the road up a little, and the fire was pretty near out – burned itself out in the night. Lightning struck a tree on Robbins Hill, and the tree come down across the high line, so that's really what started the fire.
We helped out with house fires too. Usually we just saved the chimney. Pepin's store was one of the first ones. And then Kennett's up on the hill, but all's we did was save the chimney. Those two fires stand out. Oh, and then Bertie Eastman's burned in Stow. Tommy McKenzie was fire chief at Saco Valley. I don't know how many feet of hose he run up, and I says you got to put in a relay. The pump won't work up that hill, I don't know how many feet of hose. You can only pump so many feet, and you put in another pump, a relay.
Jayne: The kids' mom, Pauline, was living with Cindy at the time, and her car caught on fire. So, we were down there. Jim goes up to the fire barn and gets the truck and he's going to put the fire out. And it came up and over the hill, and it just kept going, back up the other hill. And I looked at him, and he looked at me...
Jim: They were living where Cindy lives now. The brakes went out at the top of the hill. So I coasted. Got down to old Dick Eastman's and turned around and come back.
Jayne: I said, “Oh, here he comes! Oh, there he goes!”