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Officials mum about cause of Newport fire

Christopher Cousins | BDN
Christopher Cousins | BDN
Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal's Office (left) was among the investigators trying to determine the cause of a fire early Tuesday morning, July 12, 2011, at 60 Downwind Boulevard in Newport. York said the investigation would likely be complete later this week.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of an early morning blaze Tuesday that destroyed a double-wide mobile home at 60 Downwind Blvd.

Newport Fire Chief Jeff Chretien said firefighters initially thought that the occupants were still inside when they arrived at the scene to find the home engulfed in flames and two vehicles in the driveway with keys in the ignitions. It wasn’t until hours later that firefighters learned that the owner, James Winn, was staying at a hotel in Newport and that his wife was also not home. No one was injured in the blaze.

“We found out from a neighbor that his wife was in the hospital,” said Chretien. “We didn’t know where the husband was for quite a while.”

Chretien said he did not know why Winn was staying in a hotel.

Downwind Boulevard is a dead-end dirt road located off Route 7 in southeastern Newport. The home that burned was near the end of the road and had a Realtor’s for sale sign in front of it. The fire marshal’s office had yellow emergency scene tape draped across the driveway late Tuesday morning.

Chretien said a neighbor who was turning off his air conditioner at about 2:30 a.m. noticed the flames and called 911.

“It had been burning for a while by the time we got there,” said Chretien. The first crews on the scene doused the fire aggressively so they could enter the building to determine if there were victims inside, said Chretien.

“We couldn’t see anybody,” he said. “We knew by that time there was no chance of anyone surviving.”

Crews from Corinna, Plymouth, Etna, Detroit and Pittsfield helped fight the fire, hauling water to the scene from a hydrant on nearby Route 7. The firefighters cleared the scene by about 6:30 a.m., said Chretien.

Chretien referred questions about the cause of the fire to the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Fire investigator Sgt. Tim York, who among other investigators was at the scene Tuesday morning and afternoon, would not answer questions other than to say the fire is still under investigation. York expects to complete the investigation in a day or two, he said.

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