DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Theresa Spelios’ 16-year-old son, Ethan, decided to sleep in the living room rather than in his bedroom a floor above it on Saturday night.
That probably saved his life.
The Spelios family, which includes Spelios’ fiance, 37-year-old Michael Douglas, Ethan and 11-year-old daughter Jordan, were lucky to escape the fire that destroyed their two-story home at 8 Coombs Road early Sunday, Dover-Foxcroft Volunteer Fire Chief Joe Guyotte said.
“It was a good thing he was sleeping downstairs,” Guyotte said Sunday of Ethan. “I don’t think he would have made it out if he had [been upstairs]. The fire burnt through the floor right into his bed.”
The fire apparently began near the living room wood stove, burned through or behind and up a wall into the second story and roof, Guyotte said.
The first firefighter to arrive, Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Rollins who lives nearby, reached the scene within minutes of the 911 call at about 2:45 a.m. The first firetruck arrived four minutes later, but the flames moved with tremendous speed, Guyotte said.
“They had three smoke detectors, and they didn’t hear them go off,” Guyotte said Sunday of the family. “That fire was going a long time before anybody detected it. They were really lucky they got out alive.”
Theresa Spelios was awakened by the smell of smoke, which probably saved the family. They managed to flee the flames carrying their two cats and dogs after she called 911, Guyotte said.
Firefighters saved a few Christmas presents, but almost everything else the family owned was destroyed, Guyotte said.
Seventeen Dover-Foxcroft firefighters, plus firefighters from Dexter, Guilford and Sangerville, fought the fire, Guyotte said. No one was injured.
“The fire burned so fast that when we were making entry and trying to go upstairs the stairs had already burned away,” he said. “They [firefighters] were quick, but there wasn’t much they could do.”
Spelios, a waitress at the Bears Den Restaurant & Tavern who is pregnant, is devastated by the loss of her house, Guyotte said.
“I found her at the restaurant in the morning,” he said. “She was sitting there beside herself, like ‘What do we do next?’”
Workers at the Bears Den, 73 North St., are collecting money and donated items to help Spelios, said waitress Michelle Walton, who was covering Spelios’ shift Sunday night.
“A couple of people have dropped off things already,” Walton said.
Anyone interested in donating to help the family recover from the devastating loss is asked to visit or telephone the restaurant at 564-8733.
The Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.