AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine fire marshal investigators say they may never know what caused a mobile home fire that killed three people in Unity Township because the damage was so extensive.
Missing after the fire are 56-year-old Peter Kavin and 72-year-old Rosalina Zamora, who rented the home last year, and 57-year-old Peter Boulette, who was living with them as a boarder.
While releasing the names for the first time Thursday, Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said the state medical examiner’s office and the state police’s DNA lab are still working to positively identify the victims. One reason the identification process is so time-consuming is that some of the DNA for comparisons is coming from out-of-state, he said.
Finding relatives for Zamora, who originally came from the Philippines, has taken the longest, he said.
No background information was available about the home’s occupants, McCausland said.
The bodies were found Sunday in the rubble left by the fire, which was out by the time anyone noticed the smoldering remains of the flattened home.
Fire Chief Dennis Turner of the Unity Fire Department said that when his crews responded to the mobile home fire in the tiny neighboring community, there was nothing left to determine a cause.
“It was that bad,” he said Thursday. “We don’t know if they had smoke detectors or not — it was totally burnt by the time we got there.”
According to McCausland, the home, which was surrounded by “a lot of stuff,” was burned to the I-beams underneath.
“There was literally nothing left,” he said.
Turner said he did not know the three people living in the home and said that there are only about a dozen houses in the entire unorganized township, which was home to just 31 people at the time of the 2000 census.
“Anytime there’s a fatality, it’s something you don’t want in your community,” he said. “There are people in that neighborhood, of course, who knew them. You lose friends, relatives, it’s hard to deal with.”
The mobile home and surrounding land belonged to brothers Charles and Edward Pickard, also of Unity Township. Attempts to reach the brothers Thursday were unsuccessful.
Though he stressed that he had no way of knowing what happened in this particular case, the fire chief had some general words of caution and fire safety tips for others.
“People really need to make sure they have working smoke detectors and should use a heater that’s safe,” Turner said.
Alternate heating devices, such as electrical heaters, should be kept three feet away from any flammable material, he said.
His department also encourages people to check the battery on their smoke detectors often, changing them in the spring and fall.
Turner said that in the 11 years he has served as fire chief, he has never seen a home so destroyed by fire.
“Normally, when we get a call, the home is not like that,” he said. “Mobile homes go quick, but that’s the first one we’ve had that the home was gone so badly.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Peter Kavin, 56, who lived in the mobile home that burned, was originally from Presque Isle. He has family members now living in Presque Isle.