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Auction to help victim of LaGrange fire with hospital bills

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
As a deliveryman wheels in goods, Al Highers [left] mans a cash register at Four Corners Variety and Redemption Center in LaGrange on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Highers is brother-in-law to burn victim John Decesere.
By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

LAGRANGE, Maine — John Decesere has almost fully recovered from an explosion at his variety store in November, but his finances haven’t.

That’s why friends are holding an auction at Marion C. Cook School in LaGrange from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. The public is invited.

Decesere needs $21,000 to pay for bills accrued at Portland’s Maine Medical Center and expects he will be billed $6,000 to $8,000 for the services of the LifeFlight helicopter that flew him there on Nov. 17, he said.

“We are going through different avenues right now [to get financial aid],” Decesere said Friday. “I’m feeling much better, though. Everything is pretty much healed up.”

The 60-year-old Decesere suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face, head, torso and arms when a six-gallon can of off-road diesel fuel exploded as he burned an old stump in the side yard of his Four Corners Variety store off Route 155. Passers-by used coffee and jugs of water to douse the flames.

LifeFlight flew him from the LaGrange fire station to a burn bed at the medical center after the accident. He was released from the hospital on Nov. 26.

Decesere and his wife, Joanne, said they could not afford medical insurance because they had put all of their money into the store, which is the town’s sole convenience or food store.

More than $700 has been raised from convenience store customers who donated to a collection jar. Decesere said he hopes to raise much more with Saturday’s event.

He and his friends were bringing more than a thousand items to the school on Friday, including work tools, furniture, clothing, electrical items, camping supplies, microwave ovens, televisions, guitars and amplifiers donated to the event or purchased at tag sales, Decesere said.

“We have two pickup trucks and we are going to have to do at least a half-dozen trips with each truck,” Decesere said.

Volunteer auctioneers Sonny Bridges and Ella Lyford will also sell food and hold a raffle for items. Anyone wishing to donate items, money or volunteer for the auction should call the store at 943-0999 or come to the event, Decesere said.

Decesere is grateful for the aid, but doubts another auction will occur. Decesere said his need to recover from his wounds and run his store makes another auction too difficult.

“I am out buying all this stuff and I shouldn’t be doing all that,” he said.

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