February 21, 2018
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Electrical fire destroys Pittsfield home

photo goes with the story "PITTFIRE" Though most of the external structure remains standing, this home at 951 Main St. in Pittsfield is a total loss following a Thanksgiving Day fire, according to Jay Westgate, its owner. (Bangor Daily News /Christopher Cousins)
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Thanksgiving Day festivities soured for a Pittsfield man and his girlfriend who lost almost everything Thursday when a fire ravaged their 951 Main St. home.

One thing that Jay Westgate and Laura Silvia have to be thankful for is that no one was hurt.

“I was shocked,” said Westgate, who owns the home, Friday as he and others were inspecting the scene. “We’ve lost everything.”

Westgate and Silvia were next door, where Westgate’s brother lives, enjoying the holiday with several family members.

Westgate said he noticed the fire when he was walking the short distance to his house to check on something. His mother, Florence Makin of New Bedford, Mass., said she learned of the fire when Westgate rushed in shortly after leaving.

“My son came in grabbing his chest and he said ‘My house is on fire,’” she said, weeping gently as she recalled the moment. “It’s very painful for me to see my son lose everything.”

A neighbor from across the street called 911 at 6:17 p.m., according to Somerset County dispatcher logs. Several Pittsfield Fire Department units responded to the call along with a pumper truck from the Detroit Fire Department.

Westgate moved into the home seven years ago after years of visiting the area with his grandfather. The original structure on the property dated to 1954, but Westgate, with the help of family and friends, has spent the last three years building two additions and renovating the older part. The home, which sits next to a brook a mile or so out of downtown Pittsfield, had a new green metal roof and fresh beige vinyl siding.

Sgt. Ken Grimes of the Maine State Fire Marshal’s office said investigator Scott Richardson deemed the fire accidental and determined that it started in the wiring just above the circuit breaker box. Westgate said the box and circuits were installed within the past few years by a professional electrician. Most of the exterior walls of the home remained standing Friday, but Westgate said most of the inside was gutted by flames. Soot and water destroyed everything that didn’t burn, but at least the home was insured, said Westgate.

Asked what he’ll do in the aftermath of the blaze, Westgate said he’s not sure.

“I’m waiting it out,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. For now at least I own that camper over there,” referring to a tow-behind camper parked along the road.

Westgate is a long-haul truck driver who also raises pigs and cows on the property. His mother described him as a “hard worker” who will dig himself out of this mess, however difficult it is.

“I don’t think it’s hit him yet,” said Makin of her son while standing beside one of the additions. “He put this room up here for me when I come up. He’s worked his [behind] off for this place. I know he’ll pull through.”

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