Caribou woman escapes fire that destroyed home

Posted March 26, 2010, at 9:43 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:31 a.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — Working smoke detectors are credited with saving the life of a Caribou woman after her home caught fire late Wednesday evening.

Caribou Fire Chief Roy Woods said Friday that firefighters from three towns battled the blaze at the home at 719 River Road well into Thursday morning.

According to Woods, Doris Gagnon, the owner of the two-story dwelling, dumped the contents of an ashtray into the garbage before she went to bed that evening. The ashes were still hot and ignited the trash soon afterward.

“When she came downstairs, she saw that the entire wall was on fire,” Woods said.

The smoke detectors went off shortly after the fire ignited.

“That was the only thing that saved her life,” he said Friday.

Caribou firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after the 11:42 p.m. call for help, and firefighters from Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield arrived soon afterward to provide mutual aid.

“The structure was fully involved when we got there,” said Woods. “We had to fight high winds and snow that night, which made it harder to fight the fire. We were able to save a breezeway and an attached garage, but we couldn’t save the house. We were on the scene until 4:15 a.m. Thursday.”

Gagnon was insured, according to the chief. She now is staying with her daughter in Brewer.

No injuries were reported, Woods said Friday.

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