March 18, 2019
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Man, son jumped from window to escape fatal Bar Harbor fire

BAR HARBOR, Maine – An elderly father and 50-something son jumped from a second-story window to escape a fire that destroyed a Russell Farm Road house on Sunday.

Investigators won’t release any names until they get confirmation from the state medical examiner’s office of the identities of an elderly woman and younger man, believed to be a mother and son, found in the remains of 99 Russell Farm Road, said Carol Tompkins, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Authorities became aware of the incident when an elderly man called 911 to report the fire at about 8 a.m. Sunday. He said that he and his son had escaped but his wife and other son were inside, Tompkins said.

A neighbor identified the father as Percy Harding. They said he drove a van to a neighbor’s house and used the telephone there to call 911. Harding had to be restrained from re-entering his burning home when two neighbors returned there with him and the son with whom he had escaped the fire.

“He literally had to be held back,” said one woman, who declined to be identified. “You couldn’t get near the house. The fire was huge.”

Percy Harding had singed hair, burns on his scalp, and suffered from smoke inhalation and the impact of the fall from the window, neighbors said.

The property is owned by Dale Harding, according to Bar Harbor’s online property assessing database. Neighbors identified Dale Harding as one of three sons of Percy Harding. The house is a five-bedroom, 2½-story, wood-framed structure built in 1880, according to records.

Sandra Rodick, who lives on Russell Farm Road, said that the Harding family was among the oldest residents on the road, which is home to a mixture of farms, mobile homes and much more luxurious dwellings amid rolling hills about four miles from the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island.

Percy Harding worked at Jackson Laboratory with her but retired decades ago, said Rodick, who described the Hardings as friendly people who largely kept to themselves.

“They did family things,” said Rodick, a neighborhood resident since 1975. “You’d see them walking along the road or at the store.”

“There are a lot of sad people on this road,” Rodick added. “They are good people. It’s hard to comprehend that Percy has lost his wife and his son.”

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