Four people rescued from burning home in Liberty

Posted March 15, 2011, at 6:46 p.m.

LIBERTY, Maine — Firefighters rescued a bedridden woman and three other people Tuesday morning from a burning home on Prescott Hill Road.

When Fire Chief Bill Gillespie of the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department arrived just before 8 a.m., heavy smoke was pouring out of the double-wide mobile home owned by Theresa and Benjamin Signor.

Oil delivery man Andrew McLeod of Maritime Farms, who happened by, helped the chief drag Theresa Signor out on her mattress through a sliding glass door, Gillespie said.

The chief returned to help her husband and the couple’s two adult grandsons, whose names he did not know.

All four were conscious, but the smoke was taking a toll, the chief said.

“They were really coughing,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke.”

The blaze apparently had begun in the floor of the master bathroom and had spread to the adjoining master bedroom. The three men had shut the door to the master bedroom, which confined the flames, but no one had left the home by the time the authorities arrived. The chief said the men did not want to leave Theresa Signor but weren’t sure how to get her out safely.

She was wearing a medical alert necklace and activated its panic alarm, which alerted authorities about the emergency.

The chief said that the outcome could have been much worse.

“It was very fortunate,” Gillespie said, adding that he could tell that the fire was burning just behind the bedroom door.

“I could see the smoke, I could see the flames. We had to move,” he said.

Firefighters from Washington, Palermo, Searsmont, Montville and Freedom joined the 10 volunteer firefighters from Liberty. Altogether, there were close to 25 firefighters at the scene.

Two ambulances from Liberty and Searsmont took the Signors and one of the grandsons to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, where they received treatment for injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the chief.

It took the firefighters four hours to quell the blaze, Gillespie said. The homeowner said she was insured, and the chief estimated the smoke and water damage to the bathroom and bedroom at $40,000 to $50,000.

Although the cause of the fire was undetermined Tuesday afternoon, the chief said it was not suspicious. and he did not request investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

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