LINCOLN, Maine — The lone occupant of a home destroyed in an early Sunday morning blaze escaped without injury, but three family pets perished and a firefighter was injured in the fire at 25 School St.
The home was already ablaze when the first firefighters arrived just after 4:18 a.m. at the School Street home owned by Galen and Crystal Smith, who are in Florida.
According to Ken Lovdahl, an engineer with the Lincoln Fire Department, a relative of the Smiths, Lee Smith, was in the house when the fire broke out, but was awakened by a neighbor pounding on the door.
That neighbor, Lovdahl said, spotted the fire as he was leaving his own home for work and reported it.
“When I pulled out of the fire station with the truck I could see smoke on Main Street,” Lovdahl said. “When I got to the house I could see smoke and fire coming out of the windows and doors.”
A neighboring home is less than 10 feet away from the Smith residence, but Lovdahl said a fellow firefighter was able to get a line down and enough water onto the dwelling to save the neighbor’s home.
When crews arrived, they were told someone was inside the burning building and rescue personnel were sent inside to search for occupants.
“Four guys went in and were on their way up the stairs to the second floor when the second guy in line went through the stairs,” Lovdahl said. “They called in a mayday and he was stuck halfway in the stairs.”
Before he could be rescued, the firefighter fell all the way through the burning stairs to the ground floor, ending up in a closet below the staircase, Lovedahl said.
“They got him out and retreated from the building to regroup,” he said, adding the firefighter, whose name was not released, was taken to Penobscot Valley Hospital, and he was treated and released.
Lovdahl said crews from Lincoln, Mattawamkeag, Howland and Lee spent five hours at the scene and ended up attacking the fire from above with a ladder truck after cutting holes into the roof and second-floor walls.
Lee Smith was unharmed in the blaze, but two dogs and a cat perished. A second cat escaped.
Lovedahl said the fire marshal has been called in to investigate.