Stand 3 - Bar Harbor Overlook
By the morning of October 23rd, personnel and equipment from all over the northeastern United States were being brought in to fight this fire. During the morning hours, a stiff southwesterly winds pushed the fire towards the community of Hulls Cove and northern portions of Bar Harbor. Structures were already being lost and major evacuation efforts were underway when at about 1500 a frontal passage, that arrived earlier than predicted, brought 40 to 50 mile per hour winds from the northwest.
Despite large numbers of firefighters, soldiers from Dow Airfield, and volunteers from neighboring towns, the University of Maine, and even Bangor Theological Seminary, the strong winds and the extremely dry fuels resulted in extreme fire behavior which defied all containment efforts. Once the winds shifted and reached gale force the evacuation of civilians and firefighters became the only priority. On the Southwest side of the fire, located in the national park, containment efforts were progressing well through the early part of the day until the major wind shift caused the fire to blow up. Here, the priority also shifted to firefighter safety and evacuation.
The fire escaped all control in all sectors. The community of Hulls Cove was spared the worst but flames swept towards the village of Bar Harbor. Roaring from the northwest, it rolled over the low shoulder hills and the western residential areas where numerous million dollar hotels and mansions had been built. These summer homes and recreational facilities built by and for the wealthy families of the Northeast were almost exclusively built of wood and would be almost impossible to protect even with today's equipment. Surprisingly, the town center and waterfront were spared destruction. The fire swept through and past the village, consuming the Jackson Laboratory and ran basically unchecked to the sea along the area called Ocean Drive. Three hundred dwellings were lost in Bar Harbor that day.
Evacuation efforts began early when the control lines failed on the 23rd. About 2,000 residents of Bar Harbor had been collected at the town's athletic field by noon on the 23rd but were moved to the town dock once the fire advanced to the edge of town. However, evacuation by boat would prove to be very limited due to a small number of boats available because of high wind and rough seas. Fortunately, as the fire swept past and spared the downtown and dock area, evacuation by sea became unnecessary. Vehicle convoys were able to move evacuees to the mainland once the main threat passed. For all the structures destroyed and all the panic and displacement, only two lives were lost in the fire.