Damage hinders probe of Burnham fire

Investigators are still trying to determine the case of the fire that destroyed this home at 293 Winnecook Road in Burnham early Wednesday morning. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER COUSINS
Investigators are still trying to determine the case of the fire that destroyed this home at 293 Winnecook Road in Burnham early Wednesday morning. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER COUSINS
Posted April 28, 2010, at 7:47 p.m.

BURNHAM, Maine — Investigators say they are puzzled about the cause of an early morning fire that destroyed a home and damaged a nearby garage.

Firefighters were called to 293 Winnecook Road, a single-story home owned by Frederick Sprague, at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. The home was already fully in flames when they arrived, although they were able to save a nearby two-car garage from serious damage. All that is left of the home is a charred skeleton.

Burnham Fire Chief Lyle Chadwick, who is Sprague’s uncle, said no one was home when the fire started. Roger Chadwick, who lives across the road from Sprague, discovered the fire when he heard popping noises. The noises were caused by exploding boxes of ammunition that were part of Sprague’s gun collection.

The ammunition had burned off by the time firefighters arrived and posed no safety danger, said Chief Chadwick. The home was insured. Crews from Pittsfield, Clinton, Unity and Troy assisted at the scene.

Firefighters were unable to pinpoint the cause of the fire so they summoned an investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Fire marshal Sgt. Ken Grimes said Wednesday afternoon that because of the extensive damage, the cause of the blaze could not be determined by an examination of the scene. He said the investigation is ongoing, including interviews with people familiar with the structure.

“We’re still trying to piece it together,” said Grimes, adding that Senior Investigator Scott Richardson is leading the probe. “We’re moving into what is considered a witness-driven investigation. We just don’t know the cause yet.”

Fire Chief Chadwick said he helped build the home less than 20 years ago. Asked what it was like to fight a fire at a family member’s home, Chadwick said, “Well, you get used to it after a while.”

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