GRAY, Maine — A family returned from a Memorial Day outing to find their home in flames Monday evening.
Fire crews from Gray, New Gloucester, Windham, Poland and Auburn battled the blaze when a passerby called 911 to report that the home belonging to Jean Palanza at 226 West Gray Road was on fire.
Palanza, who lives at the home with her son and daughter-in-law, said she was “just glad everybody made it out,” referring to the family and its three dogs.
Palanza’s son, Rob Barter, said the family was on its way back from a trip to Old Orchard Beach when they saw the traffic backed up and smoke rising from where their home should be.
Barter said he had no idea what could have started the fire, but pointed to a large hole in the garage roof, indicating that’s where it appears to have started.
When asked if the two-story, single-family home appeared salvageable, Barter said “Everything is salvageable,” noting that he has a background in construction.
Gray Fire Department Chief Galen Morrison said they first received the call at 5:27 p.m. When crews arrived, the back of the garage was engulfed with flames showing through the roof.
Morrison said that between all the involved departments, there were about 60 firefighters working the fire, which took them about 25 minutes to put out.
Morrison said he had not yet been inside to assess the damage. However, crews have told him the garage and kitchen areas are a “total loss” and that there is damage to the upstairs main structure of the house.
When asked about a cause, Morrison said he could not confirm anything but that Palanza said there were chickens upstairs being kept warm with a heat lamp. Morrison said he could not confirm any exact cause until an overhaul of the building was completed.
Traffic along the West Gray Road resumed just before 7 p.m. Central Maine Power arrived to cut power to the house as crews entered the home to begin examining the scene for a cause.
Morrison said that once a preliminary inspection is done, he will determine whether he needs to call the state fire marshal.