By Judy Harrison, Of the NEWS Staff - GUILFORD - A historic landmark inn perched atop a hill overlooking downtown and the Piscataquis River was nearly destroyed by fire Saturday night.Nearly 80 firefighters from seven departments fought flames and subzero temperatures to quell the fire at the Trebor Mansion Inn, Guilford Assistant Fire Chief Allen Emerson said Sunday.
Two firefighters were injured, but the occupants of the inn, including owner Robert Shaffer, were evacuated safely.
The blaze was reported about 9:45 p.m. Saturday as a wood-stove fire in an addition to the 173-year-old Victorian-style mansion, according to Emerson. When the first unit arrived, flames were shooting out of first-floor windows and the fire had advanced to the second and third floors.
"This was one of the more difficult fires we've had in quite some time because of the age of the building and the weather," Emerson said Sunday. "Because of the many renovations, there were a lot of false walls and ceilings. It just spread everywhere along all those lines, and it was hard to get to until we could get into the structure and tear down walls. It went through the roof and every side of the building."
The main and oldest section of the inn appeared to be a loss, according to Emerson. The newer section had mostly smoke and heat damage and appeared to be repairable.
Investigators from the state Fire Marshal's Office were expected at the scene today to determine a cause, according to Emerson.
The assistant fire chief said that one Guilford firefighter suffered broken ribs when he slipped on the ice-covered porch, and another was treated for debris in his eyes.
Fire personnel remained on the scene until 5:30 a.m. Sunday, he said, but had to return to the scene a short time later to douse a flare-up. Guilford firefighters spent Sunday afternoon thawing out hoses and maintaining other equipment.
Firefighters from Sangerville, Monson, Dover-Foxcroft, Cambridge, Dexter and Sebec assisted in fighting the fire.
Constructed in 1830 by John Munroe, the Trebor Mansion Inn was converted to a bed and breakfast 146 years later in 1976 by Robert and Larraine Vernal. The couple, formerly of Stamford, Conn., spent $110,000 and nearly two years renovating the house and grounds.
When it opened on Christmas Eve in 1977, it had seven guest bedrooms and six bathrooms, a den, library, living room, dining room for guests and smaller dining room used primarily by the family.
The inn was heavily damaged in 1991 when a tree that was uprooted by lightning crashed through the slate roof.