LAMOINE, Maine — After a fire that destroyed a local family’s home flared back up again Tuesday, friends and family of the fire victims are making arrangements to help them out.
Nicole Berzinis, Sean McLaughlin and their two young boys lost their home to fire Monday morning after McLaughlin had left for work and the two boys had headed off to the local elementary school for the day. No one was hurt in the blaze, which Berzinis discovered around 8 a.m. after she had gone outside to feed some ducks, but the house and everything in it was destroyed.
Stu Marckoon, Lamoine’s assistant fire chief, said Wednesday that the fire flared up again early Tuesday morning, “which we fully expected.” The house had collapsed into a pile of rubble as it burned, he said, which always makes it difficult to fully extinguish smoldering embers.
Firefighters went back to the fire scene around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, Marckoon said. After the sun came up, they spent several hours making sure there were no more burning embers that might reignite.
“We finally had it out by noontime,” he said.
An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office was at the scene on Tuesday, but too much damage had been done to determine how the fire started. According to initial reports on Monday, it appeared to have started in a downstairs bedroom.
“There was not enough left for him to make a forensic finding,” Marckoon said.
He said that a local contractor played an important role in extinguishing the fire. Jay Fowler brought an excavator to the scene on Monday and operated it both Monday and Tuesday to help firefighters pull apart the burning pile of rubble.
Without the excavator, making sure the fire was out likely would have taken much longer than it did, Marckoon said.
“It would have taken 100 men three weeks to pull that apart [by hand],” he said.
To help the family find a new home and to replace some belongings, a benefit dinner has been scheduled for the end of the month at Lamoine Consolidated School, where the two McLaughlin boys are pupils.
According to information posted on the Town of Lamoine’s official website, the benefit supper and auction will be held 5-7 p.m. Saturday, March 31, at the school on Route 184. The event will include a raffle and auction. Requested donations are $6 per adult, $3 for children 12 years old and younger and $15 for a family of four.
Lynn Hines, a family friend, said Wednesday that a bank account to help the family has been set up at Bangor Savings Bank. Financial donations can be made out to “McLaughlin Family Fund” and deposited at any Bangor Savings Bank branch, she said.
“It is tragic,” Hines said. “Nothing [inside the home] was salvageable.”
Hines said the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross has put the family up at a nearby motel until long-term housing arrangements can be made.