FRANKFORT, Maine — A fire that destroyed a 1½-story home on North Searsport Road likely was caused by a wood stove malfunction, the fire chief said Friday night.
Frankfort Fire Chief Earl Anderson said the homeowner, whose name was not immediately available, told him that the fire began about 4:30 p.m. Friday.
The homeowner, a man who lived in the house alone with his dog, was lying on the couch when the wall behind his wood stove grew hot and the house began to fill with smoke, Anderson said.
“So he [did] the right thing. He grabbed his dog and he got out of the house,” Anderson said. Besides the dog and the clothes on his back, the only belongings that the homeowner was able to save were two pistols, the chief said, adding that the home was not insured.
When firefighters arrived, the interior already was in flames, Anderson said.
Making matters even more difficult for fire crews was that the homeowner owned several firearms and ammunition, including .22-caliber rifle shells, that began exploding inside, Anderson said.
“There was no way I was going to send firefighters into that building,” he said.
Anderson said that the homeowner planned to stay temporarily with a grown son, who came to pick him up at the fire scene.
“The house is a total loss,” he said, adding that firefighters called an excavator in to pull down what remained of the structure for safety reasons. He said firefighters would keep an eye on the fire scene overnight to handle any flare-ups that might occur.
“I would like to thank all the firefighters who showed up,” Anderson said, noting that Frankfort firefighters were assisted by their colleagues from West Frankfort, Searsport and Winterport, and by ambulance personnel from Searsport and Winterport.
Anderson said no one was injured as a result of the fire.
“Everyone went home safe,” he said. “You can rebuild a house, but you can’t rebuild a life.”
Anderson also wanted to spread the word that the Fire Department has free smoke alarms to give away to any Frankfort residents who need them.