CANTON, Maine — A lit kerosene lantern that was accidentally knocked to the floor started a fire that destroyed a School Street home early Friday morning, fire Chief Shane Gallant said.
No one was injured in the inferno, but homeowner Steve Blair of 318 School Street (Route 140) lost everything, Gallant and Blair’s friends, Dianna Wright and Ron Dalton, both of Jay, said Friday afternoon.
“We saw pictures of it and it was just horrifying,” Wright said of the fire.
Gallant said the two-story wood building with metal roofing was engulfed in flames by 3 a.m. when the first firefighters arrived.
“The whole front of the building was blowing out with fire from the first and second floors,” he said.
Twenty firefighters from Canton, Jay, Peru, Dixfield and Mexico fought the fire and shuttled water from a hydrant at Canton’s old school, Gallant said.
“The biggest problem we had was the water supply,” he said.
Additionally, it was a tough location to get firetrucks to the scene — midway down a small slope before railroad tracks and the Androscoggin River. Route 140 had to be shut down for safety reasons.
Gallant had high praise for town road crews.
“A big thanks to the highway department,” he said. “Every time I called them, they came with sand and salt to keep us going.”
Gallant said Blair told him that he awakened, realized he’d left an old-fashioned kerosene lantern lit on a table beside the bed, reached over to put it out and accidentally hit it.
“It fell on the floor and that was it,” Gallant said.
The flames did not reach a free-standing garage near the house.
“He lost everything,” Wright said. “Computers, everything. My computer is gone. He was fixing my computer.”
She said Blair called her at 4:06 a.m., alerting her to the fire.
Dalton said he believes Blair had lived in the house for about a decade, having previously lived in a trailer across the street.
“We stayed with him a week ago,” Dalton said. “I loved that house. Hardwood floors and a bedroom upstairs.”
Wright said Blair’s cat wasn’t killed in the fire.
“Thank God the cat was outside when it happened,” she said. “We have to bring the cat home with us.”
Gallant said the house was insured and that he was told the insurance company would help Blair find a temporary place to live. Wright said Blair is staying with a friend.
She said people who want to help Blair may contact her at 320-5761.