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KENNEBUNK, Maine — A Sunday morning fire that authorities say started in a clothes dryer damaged a Kennebunk home and shuttered a day care center just days before the new school year begins.
Lori Lessard has operated the day care business from her home at 24 Intervale Road for the past 10 years. She had about a dozen clients, many of them children of local teachers.
Lessard vowed to reopen the center, called Lori Lessard’s Daycare, as quickly as possible.
“I am just going to have to close up shop for a while but I have every intention of reopening,” she said Tuesday. “I love my job. I love what I do.”
Kennebunk Fire Chief Stephen Nichols said a neighbor reported seeing black smoke billowing from a “busted out” window at the house just before noon. Nobody was home at the time.
“I can tell you it started in the dryer,” he said. “The fire was mostly contained within the dryer although it did make its way out into the hallway.”
The incident remains under investigation.
Although the ranch-style house sustained “extensive” smoke and water damage, Nichols said it remains structurally sound. A fire door that connected the home with an attached garage “did its job,” he added.
Firefighters were on the scene within five minutes of the emergency call, Nichols said. Fire crews from Arundel and Wells also helped attack the blaze.
“The guys were out in force and they did a great job,” Nichols said. “It had the potential to really rock and roll and they did a great stop” to get the flames under control.
Lessard was at the beach with her daughter and three friends when a neighbor told her about the fire. She left her home at about 11 a.m. and said the dryer was not in use and only was used for a few minutes that morning.
Prior to that quick use, she said the machine hadn’t been used for nearly a day.
“When I came back from the beach and turned down Intervale Road, I saw six fire trucks, an ambulance and about 30 guys on the scene putting out the fire,” Lessard said. “Tons of neighbors came and gathered around and offered support.”
She’s also heard from her day care clients asking how they could help.
For now, Lessard and three of her four children are staying with friends. Her husband and another child were out of town and are due back this week.
Although it’s not clear when the day care will reopen, she’s already met with contractors about cleaning and restoring the home.
The Lessard’s 4-year-old German shepherd, Brock, managed to get out the front door after the fire started, she said. He was found sunning himself in the backyard when firefighters arrived.