SANGERVILLE, Maine — A few harrowing hours passed Monday before firefighters learned there were no children inside a Sangerville home that was consumed by fire. A firefighter also was struck by a chunk of ice that fell from the roof, but he was treated at the scene and continued to help fight the fire.
Spencer Grinnell, his wife Jennifer and their three children moved about three months ago into their rented, rambling home on Route 23.
Neighbors reported the school bus routinely stopped at the Route 23 home where two small children would get off after school. The couple also has a teenage son. Without knowing the whereabouts of the children and their parents, the neighbors feared the worst and conveyed that fear to firefighters.
Unbeknownst to anyone, Spencer Grinnell and his three children had gone snowmobiling after the youngsters had arrived home from school. He said Monday that he had planned to return home before his wife arrived from work. The father and children had stopped to rest on the snowmobile trail when Grinnell noticed he had six missed cell phone calls. Returning one from his sister, he learned of the fire and quickly returned home.
“I don’t know what to hell we’re going to do,” a stunned Grinnell said as he surveyed the damage Monday. The family lost all their belongings in the fire. Two cats are believed to have died in the fire.
When firefighters arrived at about 5 p.m., flames were shooting out both sides of the approximately 24-foot by 30-foot building, Sangerville Fire Chief Chuck Bean said Monday. He said the fire appeared to have started on the left side of the building in the living room area of the main house. Next to the main house was an enclosed swimming pool.
Bean said firefighters had some difficulty drawing water from a stream on the Goff Road because they had to drill holes in the ice to get the water.
Investigator Scott Richardson of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, who was at the scene Monday night, said a large chunk of ice fell off the building onto firefighter Jeff Willey of Sangerville, pinning him to the ground. Firefighters came to Willey’s aid, and after he was treated at the scene, he resumed his firefighting duties.
Richardson, who plans to sift through the remains today, said the family did have renter’s insurance. He was unsure who owned the property or if the owner had insurance coverage.
Sangerville firefighters were assisted at the scene by firefighters from Guilford, Sangerville, Dexter, Corinna and Dover-Foxcroft. Cambridge firefighters remained on stand-by at the Guilford station.