DETROIT, Maine — Raymond and Julie Belanger had neighbors in for coffee at 12:25 p.m. Sunday when their wheaten terrier, Vanessa, started barking.
“It was so strange,” Raymond Belanger said Monday as insurance adjusters inspected his blackened home. “We were just sitting there and all of a sudden she was barking.”
He poked his head out the back door to find smoke flowing across the back field, which sits adjacent to the former Agway store on Route 100, also known as North Road.
“In a matter of seconds it was totally black with smoke inside the house,” said Raymond, who started screaming for everyone to get out.
The Belangers’ 23-year-old son, Jeremy, was in an upstairs bedroom.
“This was the one time I yelled up to him and he came running right down,” said Raymond Belanger, who described his son as having special needs. “I was so proud of him.”
About the time Belanger wondered where the Fire Department was, “they dropped out of the sky like a godsend,” he said.
Detroit Fire Chief Donald Chute said he and an investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office agreed Monday that the fire started near a wood stove in the garage, which is attached to the house. With strong wind pushing the fire toward the living quarters, Chute said crews achieved “a pretty good save.” Most of the fire damage was confined to an upstairs bedroom and bathroom and the attached garage. A Chevrolet Cavalier in the garage was a total loss.
Another challenge was keeping the fire from traveling along the old home’s beam-style construction, said Chute. Crews from Detroit, Pittsfield, Plymouth and Newport fire departments helped at the scene, which included closing Route 100 for more than an hour. An ambulance from Sebasticook Valley Hospital stood by, but no one was injured.
Belanger said the home was insured, but he didn’t know what he and his family would do in the short term. He said he hopes the damage can be fixed.
Chute blamed an improperly installed wood stove for starting the fire. He urged any homeowner with a wood stove to have it inspected for safety by someone from their local fire department or the fire marshal’s office.
“It’s pretty much a tragedy when something like this happens,” said Chute. “Sometimes cutting corners isn’t worth it.”