An Orland firefighter checks on burning hotspots Tuesday in the rubble of a house that burned to the ground the night before. Sam Crawford, who lived at the property on the corner of Winkumpaugh and Bald Mountain roads, initially escaped the blaze but went back inside the house to look for his missing dog. Crawford's body was found hours later in the collapsed in the basement. Credit: Bill Trotter

The man who died Monday evening in Orland after investigators say he rushed back into a burning house to look for his missing dog has been identified.

Sam Crawford, 40, initially escaped the fire with the rest of his family, but after moving a skidder to a neighbor’s property, he went back inside to look for his missing dog, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The fire broke out about 5:30 p.m. Monday in a one-story, ranch-style house on the corner of Bald Mountain and Winkumpaugh roads, McCausland said.

Credit: Bill Trotter

Crawford’s body was found in the home’s basement about 11:30 p.m., McCausland said. The dog has not been found.

Two other adults — 26-year-old Cassandra Morse and 19-year-old Alex Chaffee — and Crawford’s two children, 9-year-old Lillian Crawford and 5-year-old Ella Crawford, survived the fire, McCausland said.

McCausland said the fire began in an attached garage shortly after a space heater was turned on. The intensity of the fire made the house collapse into the basement, he said.

Sam Crawford owned a construction business, S.C. Crawford, that operated from the Winkumpaugh Road home and kept several vehicles on the property that he worked on or used for parts, according to neighbors. Aside from having at least one dog, he and his family also own horses and guinea fowl — a few of which roamed the yard and screeched loudly Tuesday morning as people stopped and either sat in their vehicles or stood by the side of the road to look at the charred ruins.

Credit: Bill Trotter

Eileen Hughes, who with her husband Dan owns Wee Bit Farm on the opposite side of Bald Mountain Road from where the fire occurred, said Tuesday that she did not know Sam Crawford well, aside from waving “hello” when they saw each other coming and going.

She said she and her husband were home Monday evening watching television but did not realize Crawford’s house was on fire until moments before the fire trucks showed up.

She said the noise of the roaring flames and the whinnying of Crawford’s horses — which were outside and unharmed — stood out to her as she watched firefighters douse the blaze.

“It’s sad,” she said.