Man dies in early morning house fire

Posted Dec. 09, 2009, at 8:17 p.m.

CHERRYFIELD, Maine — A local man died early Wednesday morning in a house fire.

The fire was reported at 4:15 a.m. and was described as a chair on fire in Christopher Farnsworth’s bedroom. Farnsworth slept upstairs in a 200-year old farmhouse that he shared with his mother, Mary Farnsworth, according to Cherryfield Fire Chief Charles Curtis Jr. The chief said smoking was suspected as the cause of the fire.

According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Christopher Farnsworth woke his mother and told her his bedroom was on fire and that he was going to get some water to try to extinguish it.

Sherry Farnsworth was able to escape the burning farmhouse uninjured. She did not see her son come out of the house but told fire officials that she knew he had gone back upstairs. His body was recovered midafternoon in a room next to his bedroom, Curtis said, after an excavator was sent to the scene. The body has been taken to the Maine medical examiner’s office for autopsy and positive identification.

The farmhouse was located on U.S. Route 1, also known as Milbridge Road.

“They’re good folks,” Cherryfield Town Clerk Mona West said later in the day. “Everybody is pretty much in shock.”

The house was burned to the ground, but Curtis said only the second floor was on fire when he arrived. More than 30 firefighters from Cherryfield, Steuben, Milbridge and Harrington fought the blaze.

Curtis said entry and exit from the home was made difficult by a large number of possessions in the home. “My crews made entry very quickly but were nearly unable to find their way back out,” he said.

Curtis said the last fatal fire in Cherryfield was more than 40 years ago. Curtis knew the victim and said he was a quiet man who did seasonal work, such as woodcutting and blueberry raking.

Mary Farnsworth, who is active in community events and is a local ambulance trustee, was staying with family members who live in Cherryfield, Curtis said. “She has a son and a daughter that live here,” he said.

West said Cherryfield residents have a reputation for rallying around one another in difficult times and she expects that public suppers and other benefits will be scheduled soon.

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