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Christmas tree lights suspected in starting Winterport blaze

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Hampden firefighters Jordan Stewart, left and Matt Thomas roll hoses in the snow covered street in front of 310 North Road in Winterport on Monday, December 27, 2010 after putting out a fire at that location. Numerous departments responded to the report of a smoked filled home. Two pets perished in the fire that was contained to the living room where a christmas tree is suspected starting the blaze. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

WINTERPORT, Maine — Lights on an artificial Christmas tree are believed to be the cause of a Monday afternoon fire on North Road that destroyed the home’s living room, Fire Chief Thomas Doe said from the fire scene.

“Apparently, the Christmas tree’s lights were on,” he said. “Thankfully, the house was closed right up tight and didn’t get a chance to get burning.”

The homeowners, Justin Brown and his wife, were outside shoveling snow in their driveway when they noticed thick black smoke inside their living room. They used a cell phone to call 911 at around 1:15 p.m.

There is a lot of smoke damage in the 1½-story home at 310 North Road and several windows were broken by firefighters to vent it, but “pretty much the fire damage was limited to the living room,” Doe said.

If the Browns had entered the burning house, the fire would have been much worse, the fire chief said. With the house closed up, the fire had little fuel to burn, Doe said.

“It would have really been bad if they had gone back inside,” he said. “Even with it starving, it was almost ready to flash over. You could see the evidence of that.”

The Browns, who have insurance, sat in a car parked nearby and watched as firefighters extinguished the fire. The couple lost two cats and a dog in the blaze, Doe said.

“They’re pretty shook up,” he said.

Firefighters from town were assisted by fire departments in Monroe, Frankfort Village, West Frankfort, Newburgh and Hampden.

“Probably all total we had 30 firefighters,” Doe said. “For that time of day and this weather, we had an awesome turnout.”

No injuries were reported, he said. The last firefighters cleared the scene at 3:15 p.m.

The fire definitely originated around the artificial Christmas tree, Doe said.

“I don’t know if it was a bad spot [on the wire] or what,” the fire chief said. “You could tell for sure that is where it started.”

The home is located in West Winterport between Monroe Road and Dahlia Farm Road and the heavily snow-covered roads made traveling to the scene tricky, Doe said.

“It was a hair-raising ride to get out here,” he said. “When you respond to a structure fire usually you’re going more than 30. Not today.”

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