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New Vineyard home heavily damaged by fire

4 mins read


NEW VINEYARD – Fire department crews from five area towns fought a late night blaze that heavily damaged a two-story home at 406 Church Street. The home had been undergoing renovations for years.

Investigator Ed Hastings of the state’s Fire Marshal’s Office, was at the scene this morning determined the cause of the blaze to be “undetermined.” The origin appears to have been at the metal stove pipe that vented the wood stove on the first floor and ran through to the second floor and up through the roof.

“We should add it was accidental,” Hastings said.

At 11:20 p.m. smoke alarms suddenly sounded at Jon and Alyce Cavanaugh’s home Thursday night. The couple were up watching TV when they heard the alarms sound and scrambled to find the source. Alyce told Jon she could smell smoke.


New Vineyard Fire Chief Douglas Churchill, at left, and homeowner Jon Cavanaugh watch as investigators with the state’s Fire Marshal’s Office look through the remains of the Cavanaugh’s heavily damaged home after a fire stated last last night.

“I checked the wood stove on the first floor and couldn’t see any evidence of problems,” Jon said this morning. “Then I ran upstairs to the bedroom and smelled smoke and then saw fire in the back wall.” He ran back downstairs and grabbed a small fire extinguisher and ran back upstairs and tried to put it out.

“I was spraying the wall and realized this little thing (the extinguisher) isn’t going to put this out,” he said. Alyce called 911. The fire department arrived and quickly realized much more help was needed.

Fire Chief Douglas Churchill called in the mutual aid towns of New Portland, Farmington, Strong and Kingfield. Thirty to 35 firefighters arrived to fight the blaze, he said. Water was trucked in from Mill Pond stream two miles away next to the Post Office.

Jon was able to catch one of their two cats attempting to run and hide in the house from all the smoke and commotion.

“I brought one cat out and then went back in to find the other one, but the smoke was too thick and I had to get out,” he said. A firefighter near the front door caught a glimpse of the second cat and lunged for it as it attempted to crawl under a bench in the front hall.

“He grabbed its leg and pulled it out,” Jon said. “We’re pretty lucky to get them both out.”

Fire tore through, destroying the back half of the home upstairs, with water and smoke heavily damaging the rest of the house. The Cavanaughs have been renovating their home after they moved here four years ago. Jon believes the fire may have started when cellulose insulation that was currently being added in the renovations, came in contact with the wood stove’s metal chimney pipe.

In the clear morning’s brisk air, Jon Cavanaugh stood outside the home he has worked on for those years, watching investigators poke around in the upstairs. “It has antique wood floors, stain glass windows, lots of antiques,” he said. “I don’t know how many of those are lost.”

The fire was extinguished by 2:30 a.m. this morning. Jon Cavanaugh stayed up all night keeping a watch on his house while Alyce stayed with friends.

“We’ll see what the insurance company says,” Jon said.

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