ST. FRANCIS, Maine — A St. Francis couple escaped their burning home with the clothes on their backs when a fire swept through their Main Street residence Friday morning.
According to neighbors, Cindy Young and Paul Langenbauch were home when the fire broke out around 9 a.m.
“I was in the back of my barn when I heard someone screaming,” Jason Martin, who lives across the road, said Friday evening. “I went to look and saw Cindy coming out of the house.”
Martin said Young told him Langenbauch had just built a fire in the home’s wood stove and, soon after, she smelled smoke coming from a closet area.
“She said she tried to call 911, but could not get through so she ran outside and got in touch with a neighbor who was able to call for help,” Martin said.
Meanwhile, Martin said, Langenbauch was attempting to save two of the family’s four dogs.
“Two were already outside, but Paul broke a window to try and call the other two,” Martin said.
The two dogs perished in the blaze.
Keys for the family’s two vehicles were inside the burning home, so Martin said he used his farm tractor to pull the two cars out of the way of the firetrucks.
Two trucks assisted from St. Francis with mutual aid from Allagash’s one truck.
“By the time I got there, there was not much left of the house,” Louis Pelletier III assistant Allagash Fire Chief, said Friday evening. “Only three walls were standing and there was not much that could be done.”
About a half dozen firefighters from the two departments assisted and were aided by several neighbors at the scene, Pelletier said.
Hampering efforts were temperatures hovering around 10 degrees below zero and wind.
“The equipment kept freezing up,” Pelletier said, adding the nozzle on his truck had frozen and had to be replaced with a spare he had on board before he could begin pumping water.
Pelletier was uncertain if the state fire marshal had been called in to investigate.
Langenbauch and Young are currently staying with neighbors, Martin said.