‘Nothing is salvageable’ after Hampden fire, investigation continues

This is what Tony Francis' home on Manning Mill Road looks like on Jan. 20, the day after it caught fire while he and his girlfriend were at work. Photo courtesy of Tony Francis w/Ricker story
This is what Tony Francis' home on Manning Mill Road looks like on Jan. 20, the day after it caught fire while he and his girlfriend were at work. Photo courtesy of Tony Francis w/Ricker story
Posted Jan. 20, 2011, at 12:31 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:17 a.m.

HAMPDEN — Tony Francis said Thursday morning that he has no clue what could have started the fire Wednesday afternoon that ripped through his 1875 farmhouse on Manning Mill Road.

Fire investigators are working to answer that question and have asked for the help of the state electrical inspector, Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said Thursday.

Francis, who purchased and moved into the farmhouse on Oct. 1 with his girlfriend and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, said he is relieved no one was hurt in the blaze and thanked firefighters, who saved two of the couple’s pets from the flames.

Francis and his girlfriend went home Thursday morning to go through the debris.

“It’s in bad shape,” he said by cell phone. “Nothing is salvageable.”

The fire originated in a storage shed attached to the back part of the house that was accessible only from the outside, the homeowner said.

“It’s part of the main house,” he said. “Above it was a bedroom. It was a cold room” that had “Christmas stuff in storage containers” and other items.

“There was nothing in there,” Francis said. “I didn’t have anything plugged in in there.”

The fire was reported at around 4 p.m. Wednesday and fire crews from Hermon, Newburgh, Bangor and the Maine Air National Guard assisted Hampden. They worked into the night to extinguish the blaze and local firefighters returned to the structure on Thursday morning because a hot spot flared up, Francis said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, York said.

“We’re having our state electrical inspector come tomorrow to take a look,” he said Thursday. “There is no determination [of cause] at this time. It’s under investigation.”

Francis said he was on his way home from work in Bangor when he saw the thick, black smoke.

“I had just picked up my daughter and I came home” and was stopped by a firefighter at the end of Manning Mill Road near the one-lane bridge leading to the house, he said. The firefighter told him the house at the end of the roadway was on fire.

“I said, ‘Wait a second — that’s my house,’” Francis recalled.

The green, two-story, wood-frame home is insured and the insurance inspector was expected to arrive Thursday, he said.

In addition to the couple and their daughter, “we had a guest staying with us, and she lost her stuff, too,” Francis said.

The Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the family while they look for a new place to live, Francis said.

Hampden firefighter Dan Pugsley said fire crews were able to salvage a firearm, a laptop computer and some documents, which were returned to the family.

The family’s cat died in the fire, but firefighters were able to rescue a puppy, Francis said.

“They saved my dog — his name is Remington,” he said. “We got him the day we moved into the house. The betta fish also was alive in his little tank.”

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