BUCKSPORT, Maine — A fire that partially gutted a River Road home two weeks ago has been deemed suspicious by state and local officials.
Bucksport Fire Chief Craig Bowden said a preliminary investigation suggests someone broke into the side door of a home owned by Loraine and Bertil Sundberg sometime before the fire began on April 15.
Bowden said that while an investigation is ongoing, it appears the break-in and the fire may be linked.
“Our assumption is that [the break-in] was just previous to the fire,” he said Tuesday.
Bucksport police are assisting the State Fire Marshal’s Office in its investigation, Chief Sean Geaghan said Tuesday.
State Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas said that while his office is treating the fire as “suspicious,” that doesn’t necessarily mean arson — though an intentional fire is a possibility.
“We’re treating it as if it might have been a break-in with some kind of fire activity as a cover-up, but there’s no conclusion on that,” he said Tuesday.
“Any fire under those circumstances is suspicious, but even if it were a burglar, they could have been smoking a cigarette and dropped the butt,” Thomas said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean it was an intentional fire. So that’s not arson.”
Fire crews from four towns — Bucksport, Orrington, Orland and Holden — responded to the fire early in the afternoon of April 15. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze within 10 minutes of arrival, but not before the flames caused extensive damage to the first floor and heavy smoke damage to the second.
The Sundbergs were not home at the time of the fire, and Bowden said it appears they are not currently living at the River Road address.
The home was most recently assessed at $20,100, according to town tax records.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.