Marilyn Harvey, 80, has lived in her Mt. Ephraim Road home since she was 12. On July 17, she said goodbye to the house where she and her husband raised six children, to make room for a new home.

Searsport Fire Department used Harvey's house as a training exercise, or practice burn. Firefighters spent several hours setting areas of the house ablaze, watching the fire grow, then knocking it down with streams of water. At one point, the crew extinguished an adjacent pine tree branch that had caught fire.

Harvey lived at the house until recently, and said even though the house had fallen into disrepair, needing windows and foundation work, "it's a little hard."

Her daughter Belinda Smith said her mom needs a safe home to be in, and expects delivery of a new double-wide modular house in September.

"It's a little bit hard for me, growing up in this house," Smith added.

Harvey had lived in the house, together with five brothers and five sisters, since it was built in 1952. Smith grew up in the same home with four sisters and a brother. She rattled off her siblings' names: Linda Harvey, Melford Harvey, Laurie Engstrom, Brenda Clark and Amanda Whitcomb.

Whitcomb said, choking back tears, "It's hard watching your childhood memories go up in smoke.

"We had a lot of family gatherings here," she said. "But there will be more."

Searsport Fire Chief Andy Webster said the training exercise afforded an opportunity for firefighters to learn about ventilation of structures. It marked the third practice burn the department has done this year.

The department has 33 firefighters currently, he said, which is about average, though the numbers fluctuate. On this exercise, 16 firefighters where suited up and ready to go.

The town code enforcement officer, Webster said, is the person to talk to if someone wishes to have their house used as a controlled burn exercise.

Harvey said overall, she's excited to have have a new house and will plan a housewarming party in the fall for all her family and friends.