BOOTHBAY, Maine — A longtime Boothbay resident and Air Force veteran died Wednesday morning in a fire that swept through his two-story home on Sproul Lane.
Adam and Erica Sproul said their father, James Michael Sproul, 57, who was known by most as “Mike,” died in the fire that leveled his home.
According to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland, the fire was discovered at about 4:10 a.m. Wednesday by a newspaper delivery person. Boothbay Fire Chief Dickie Spofford, who was among the first people at the scene, said the fire was well advanced by the time he arrived.
“It wasn’t good,” he said. “There was heavy fire throughout every room in the house. There were two cars in the yard and a dog outside running around barking.”
Once the fire was brought under control, firefighters recovered the body of a middle-aged man in a living room about 8 feet from the front door. Authorities have not yet determined that the victim is Sproul, though Spofford and the Sproul family are confident that it was him. McCausland said he also believes the victim was Sproul but won’t know definitively until the conclusion of an autopsy by the medical examiner’s office.
McCausland said an investigator from the state fire marshal’s office was unable to determine the cause of the fire because of the extent of the near-total devastation to the home.
“Unless something turns up, it is likely this investigation is over,” said McCausland.
Sproul’s son, Adam Sproul, who was at the scene Wednesday afternoon with other family members, said he received word of the fire early Wednesday morning. Adam Sproul is a member of the Boothbay Fire Department, but wasn’t called to the fire because he was in the Portland area, where he is taking classes at Southern Maine Community College.
Adam Sproul said his father has lived on Sproul Lane for 23 years and once ran it as an 80-acre farm with several varieties of animals. In his younger years, Mike Sproul was an aircraft mechanic for the Air Force working on A-10 Thunderbolt jets. Adam Sproul said among the rubble from his father’s home, he found a half-burned certificate from the Air Force from when Sproul was named a master sergeant.
“It’s one of the only things that’s left,” he said.
Later in life, Sproul worked for the Boothbay post office, but he retired several years ago due to a medical disability, said Adam Sproul. Among the elder Sproul’s passions in years past were training and hunting for birds with his dogs and doing odd jobs around the farm.
Chief Spofford said he graduated from Boothbay Regional High School with Sproul in 1976. Spofford described Sproul as a likeable guy who in recent years has mostly kept to himself.
“I hadn’t seen much of him recently,” said Spofford. “He was a quiet guy.”
Spofford said fire crews from Southport, Boothbay Harbor and Edgecomb responded to the call and that at one point there were more than 40 firefighters at the scene. It took about two hours to douse the blaze. Early on, Spofford and others were worried about a propane tank that sat alongside the home, but it didn’t end up causing a problem.
Spofford estimated that it has been at least 30 years since there was a fatal fire in Boothbay. McCausland said this is the sixth fatal fire in Maine this year.