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Orrington home saved by unified firefighting effort, chief says

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Maine State Fire Marshal investigator Ed Archer measures the house located at 527 Dow Road in Orrington on Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012 during his investigation of a blaze at that location. The fire was reported at 7:15 p.m. Monday, Jan 30, 2012.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

ORRINGTON, Maine — The fire that broke out at 527 Dow Road on Monday night could have been much worse if firefighters hadn’t attacked it head-on and in a coordinated manner, Fire Chief Mike Spencer said Tuesday morning.

“That place should have been flat,” the chief said.

Fire investigators went to the scene Tuesday morning and determined that the cause of the house fire was accidental, according to Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“There was combustibles too close to the stove pipe,” he said, referring to wood stacked nearby.

The homeowner, Jennifer Lauhon, arrived home about 7:15 p.m. with her boyfriend and young daughter and saw smoke coming out of a wall of the living room.

“While he grabbed the fire extinguisher, she called the fire department,” Assistant Fire Chief Scott Stewart said Tuesday morning.

Stewart, who lives down the street, was the first to arrive Monday night.
He found flames and immediately called for backup, Spencer said.

Firefighters from Brewer, Bucksport, Dedham, Eddington and Holden assisted local crews extinguish the blaze, a process that took several hours.

“When everybody is working on the same page, it’s just incredible the amount of work that can get done,” Spencer said.

Instead of applying water only to the fire in the living room, firefighters also attacked the flames that were spreading into the adjacent kitchen, the fire chief said.

“The nozzle man saw the fire in the kitchen and pushed it back,” Spencer said. “They pushed it back into the burn room.”

Knowing what to do “comes from immense training and a coordinated effort,” the chief said. Because of the effort Monday night, “a lot of the structure, even the fire room where the fire was, is rebuildable,” he added.

“There is a ton of heat and smoke damage in the building, but it’s salvageable,” the assistant chief said. “Basically everything in there is black. It all needs to be professionally cleaned.”

Lauhon has insurance, Spencer said. The couple and her daughter were displaced and stayed with family members after the fire, Stewart said. The Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting them, he added.

The fire originated in the back section of the house, and most of the damage was limited to that area. The second floor was relatively unscathed, Stewart said.

No one was injured in the fire, but two family pets didn’t make it out, Spencer said.

When the door was opened, “the dog ran out but we lost two cats,” the chief said.

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