Tough times in Fort Kent and Houlton 

This has been an incredibly difficult week for two communities in Aroostook County as tragedy struck the towns of Fort Kent and Houlton on Wednesday. The lives of two children were lost, one in a skiing incident on a school trip, and another in a terrible fire that swept through an apartment complex. While there are many questions still to be answered, the response from the communities has been to support the families and children affected by the unfortunate events.

Via Lonesome Pines Facebook page
Via Lonesome Pines Facebook page
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Ethan's story

Ethan Townsend passed away at the age of 12 after a skiing accident on a school Winter Wellness Day in Fort Kent. His obituary shows that Ethan was loved by his family, and always willing to help out anyone he cared for. Ethan was a normal 12-year-old who enjoyed time on the iPad and playing with his many siblings. There are many friends and family grieving the loss of a gentle spirit and steady presence, Ethan seemed to be one-of-a-kind and it must hurt to lose him.

Ethan was a caring, funny, smart, compassionate boy who loved to make people smile; he never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings - Ethan Townsend Obituary

Amazing support from everywhere

An unexpected loss can lead to a huge financial burden. The tragic circumstances that have occurred have allowed us once again to see the generous and caring nature Aroostook County people possess. A GoFundMe campaign was set up to help with the costs of Ethan's funeral on Wednesday evening has collected over $29,000 as of Friday. This amount of support in a short time is no surprise to me, as I have witnessed many instances of the community stepping up for someone else in a time of need.

Houlton gets knocked down, and back up 

On Wednesday morning word spread quickly of a fire on Mechanic Street in Houlton. The blaze was a difficult battle for the fire crews as the blowing winds made containing the fire more challenging. We would later learn that 4-year-old Taimi Pinkham died in the fire, and his 12-year-old brother was life flighted to Maine Medical Center with burn injuries. The 12-year-old is expected to recover, and Taimi's twin sister was taken to a local hospital for smoke inhalation.

Crews battling a fire on Mechanic St in Houlton - courtesy Ray Valcourt
Crews battling a fire on Mechanic St in Houlton - courtesy Ray Valcourt
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Smoke working through downtown Houlton from the fire on Mechanic St
Smoke working through downtown Houlton from the fire on Mechanic St
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Doing what needed to be done

The response once again, this time from Houlton, was automatic. Many individuals and businesses stepped in to help immediately with shelter, clothing, food, and more for these children during the worst day of their lives. There are several accounts of businesses donating and buying food and water for the fire crews that worked throughout the day and into the evening hours. This is why we chose to live here in Aroostook County. When the hard times hit there is no better place to be than in The County. The local people step up and do what needs to be done, without hesitation.

Citizens watch as a building on Mechanic St in Houlton burns on March 23, 2022
Citizens watch as a building on Mechanic St in Houlton burns on March 23, 2022
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Many people can move on, but it will be a while for others

We may never get the answers to all of the questions we have about the events that unfolded this week, but we can see that compassion is still a natural trait in our small communities. There are many tough days ahead for the family and friends of Ethan and Taimi, and I know that their communities will be there to fill whatever the need is, because they always have and always will.

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