Dayton Arey, 57, was staying with his family at a friend’s home on Birchlawn Drive in Lamoine after Thursday night’s fire leveled his house. Maine State Police received a call around 7 a.m. from the home, said spokesman Stephen McCausland.
McCausland said Arey had stabbed himself, though he said he could not provide any additional details about the incident.
McCausland also said that the state fire marshal had declared the Ellsworth fire suspicious, in part because of how quickly the house burned.
“A bizarre set of circumstances surrounds this entire event,” McCausland said. “Firefighters were surprised at how quick the house was engulfed in fire.”
Police have not provided a motive for the suicide, and McCausland said it would likely be next week before any additional details are available on the death or the fire.
While the home was still burning, Arey told the Bangor Daily News that he discovered the fire when he arrived home from work.
“I came home and opened the door,” he said as he watched his home burn. “There was black smoke billowing out.”
Investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal are continuing the investigation into the fire, said McCausland, who also represents that office. Excavating equipment from Ellsworth is being used to help investigators comb through the rubble.
“Part of the investigation of the fire scene will be interviews, including family members that were living there,” McCausland said. “Considering what they’re dealing with, those may take place next week. … It likely will be awhile before we have a definitive answer to what started the fire,” he said.
McCausland said he didn’t know where Arey’s wife, Heidi, and five children were staying now, or whether the home was insured.
Arey’s body was examined at the scene by an assistant to the state medical examiner and released to a local funeral home.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.