PHILLIPS, Maine — The cause of a fire that destroyed a Phillips home, ell and attached barn Tuesday afternoon is still undetermined, Phillips Fire Chief James Gould said.
Barbara Field was home about midafternoon and heard an explosion, he said. She went to investigate and found her barn on the corner of Pleasant and Whitney streets was on fire, he said.
The main part of the sprawling home, identified by neighbors as one of the oldest homes in Phillips, sustained extensive water and smoke damage while an addition, ell and the barn were a total loss, he said.
The cause is still under investigation but is not suspicious.
After discovering the fire, Field went back into the home to let four dogs and four cats out, he said. Two cats stayed in the home but were later found by firefighters, and at least two received oxygen from NorthStar ambulance crew members.
Field’s son Shawn and his wife were visiting his mother and had stored a motorcycle in the barn. There were also lawn equipment and gasoline jugs in the barn. Neighbors reported hearing smaller explosions after the fire broke out, but Gould said it was from paint cans and the stored gasoline.
Field’s vehicle was destroyed and another truck and a storage trailer parked near the barn were damaged.
“She has been working on the place for years,” he said. The home is insured.
Her son and his wife were returning from a trip to Rangeley when they spotted smoke rising from the downtown Phillips area.
“I thought … I hope nobody’s house in on fire,” he said, while watching the firefighters work.
Former Phillips Fire Department Chief Paul Gardiner was doing some outside lawn work at Shadagee Apartments a short distance down Pleasant Street.
“I heard an explosion and looked up the hill and saw the barn was a ball of fire,” Gardiner said. “The Phillips Department was on the scene almost immediately. They did a terrific job.”
Driving down Whitney Street from his home, Ron Paskell said he saw smoke then also heard the loud explosion and saw flames coming from a barn window.
Pleasant Street neighbors Diana and Bill McCall also saw flames shooting up. It was really going, she said.
The Phillips Fire Department called for mutual aid from Kingfield, Strong, New Vineyard and Salem fire departments.
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