Passer-by warns octogenarians of Eddington house on fire

Posted Sept. 28, 2011, at 12:58 p.m.

EDDINGTON, Maine — It was a scary few minutes for a couple in their 80s, and for the firefighters called Tuesday night to extinguish an out-of-control chimney fire at the couple’s Main Road home, Fire Chief Jim Ellis said Wednesday.

“They were told they had a working structure fire with a woman still inside the building,” Ellis said of his firefighters.

A good Samaritan knocked on the door of John and Patricia McDonald, ages 83 and 84, respectively, at about 9 p.m., alerting them that the backside of their residence was ablaze, the fire chief said. John McDonald called 911 and local firefighters arrived within a few minutes at the residence, which is located next to Peavey Manufacturing Co.

“When Eddington’s engine arrived they had heavy smoke showing and fire venting from the roof, but both occupants had evacuated,” Ellis said.

Emergency medical personnel checked the couple, who were not injured and ended up spending the night with relatives in the area, the chief said.

The couple told fire officials that they had a chimney fire earlier in the day which they did not report, he said.

“We determined the fire originated right at the chimney,” Ellis said. “It most probably ignited on the blown-in insulation or the structural framing. We’re not sure which.”

The fire spread to the roof, destroying a good portion of the second floor, he said.

“Our crews were able to contain the fire to a concealed space” between the floors, Ellis said. “There is extensive fire damage on the second floor in the concealed space and a bedroom.”

The first floor had smoke and water damage, but luckily “they are going to be able to recover a lot of their personal property,” the fire chief said of the McDonalds.

Firefighters from town were joined by those from Holden, Brewer and Dedham in extinguishing the fire, and the last firefighter cleared the scene at around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. No injuries were reported.

The home’s metal roof and blown-in insulation, which are great for keeping heat in during colder weather, created some difficulties for firefighters trying to vent the flames, Ellis said.

With winter just around the corner, Ellis took the opportunity to warn residents to check their home heating systems.

“We’re heading into the heating season, so it’s a good reminder to think about cleaning chimneys and making sure batteries are good in smoke detectors,” he said.

The McDonalds have insurance on their house, Ellis said.

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