STONINGTON, Maine — The man who died in a garage fire off Childs Road on Sunday afternoon died of smoke inhalation, according to the state medical examiner’s office.
The death was accidental, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Before making a positive identification, the medical examiner will conduct an additional examination of the body found in the remnants of the garage that burned almost to the ground.
Police have initially identified the dead man as Scott Bartlett, 44, who lived in the garage.
“Investigators have little doubt that it was Mr. Bartlett,” McCausland said Monday.
The death is the first fire-related one for the Stonington Fire Department in 35 years, according to Assistant Fire Chief Adelbert Gross.
“That’s 35 years too soon,” he said.
It was difficult for the firefighters because Bartlett was fairly well-known in town and was related to some members of the department, Gross said.
“He was one of those freelance carpenters who could do anything,” the assistant fire chief said Monday. “He’d done a lot of work around town. He was pretty talented.”
The department has not yet planned to have counselors available for the firefighters, Gross said.
“We haven’t gotten to that yet,” Gross said. “Right now, we know that kids have lost a father; a mother has lost a son. We’re really thinking about the family right now.”
Firefighters were called to the scene at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. According to Gross, the garage was in flames when firefighters arrived.
“It was fully engulfed and it was starting to drop in on itself,” he said. “There was no way of saving anything at all.”
Gross said there was a travel trailer inside the large wooden building that likely fed the fire.
Initially, firefighters were unsure whether Bartlett was inside the building.
“He’s out and about a lot,” Gross said. “But family members made a lot of calls trying to locate him, unsuccessfully. We were about 75 percent sure he was in there.”
Bartlett’s body was found at about 7:30 p.m. as fire officials searched the rubble, according to McCausland.
Bartlett had been estranged from his wife for two years and had been living in the garage adjacent to his former home, according to McCausland. He said two of Bartlett’s sons had visited their dad earlier in the afternoon and had extinguished a small fire on a mattress in the garage.
McCausland said there was no way to tell whether the mattress had reignited.
Bartlett was a smoker, McCausland said, but it is unlikely that the cause of the fire will be determined because of the severe damage. Three investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were at the scene Sunday night and were expected to return today to take follow-up photographs.
“There will be some follow-up on this,” McCausland said. “But it’s not likely that they’ll be able to pinpoint a cause due to the extent of the damage.”
Stonington firefighters were assisted at the scene by a crew from Deer Isle under the mutual aid agreement between the towns. Firefighters from Sedgwick covered the Deer Isle station during the blaze.