Quick thinking by nearby family members and a rapid response from local fire departments limited the damage from a structure fire in Whitefield Saturday, April 29.
Five fire departments quickly converged on the burning single-wide mobile home at 365 Townhouse Road after it was paged out by Lincoln County Communications Center at 11:02 a.m. According Whitefield Fire Department Public Information Officer Lt. Aaron Miller, the first Whitefield responder, Engine 3 from Coopers Mills, was on the scene within 10 minutes
Whitefield Fire Chief Jesse Barton reported much of the damage was limited to one end of the mobile home where the master bedroom was located and where the fire is believed to have started. The cause of the fire is unknown.
The bedroom door was closed at the time, which helped contain the interior damage, Barton said. The bedroom was secured with a six-panel, solid-core interior door. The quality of the door, and the fact it was closed, were significant contributing factors in keeping the fire contained, Barton said.
Whitefield Fire Department was assisted at the scene by units from the Alna, Jefferson, Somerville, and Pittston fire departments. Speaking the day after the event, Barton said approximately 25 firefighters turned out for the call. Firefighters were able to clear the scene roughly three hours after they arrived.
The home belongs to Mary and Steve Moulton. According to the Moulton’s daughter-in-law, Jenn Greenleaf, the couple escaped essentially unharmed. The Moultons managed to secure Mary’s purse, some medications, their cellphones, and personal identification on their way out the door, Greenleaf said.
According to the Greenleaf, the couple has been provided with temporary shelter and some donated clothing.
According to a written narrative Greenleaf provided, Mary Moulton’s niece, Brandy Ireland, was visiting her parents, Mary Moulton’s sister and brother-in-law Kathy and Burt Mansfield, next door to the Moulton residence when Ireland observed black smoke through the trees.
“Kathy knew exactly what it was and took off running toward the house,” Greenleaf said. “Her husband, Burt, and their granddaughter, Avril (Goodman), followed. They pounded on the door to get Mary and Steve out. The door was locked, and they had no idea the house was on fire.
“The four of them got Mary and Steve out. Avril grabbed their two dogs like footballs, and Kathy grabbed one of their cats and put them in their vehicles next door … Avril assisted Mary out and down off the deck – (Mary) passed out twice, but Avril kept her safe and made sure she didn’t get hurt.”
Hours later, the Moulton’s other cat was found unhurt, hiding safely in the back bedroom, Greenleaf said.
“The firefighter I spoke with said they could respond so fast because this happened early on a Saturday, and they all happened to be home,” Greenleaf said. “He said that if this had happened during the week, the outcome might not have been the same.”
According to Greenleaf, although the majority of the structure was saved, the bedroom and the bathroom are a total loss, as are the exterior deck and items on the deck and beneath it, including a metal gazebo, outdoor furniture, and bins of seasonal clothing the Moultons were in the process of sorting.
“The living room and half the kitchen have water and smoke damage,” Greenleaf said. “The remainder of the house has extensive smoke damage.”
Family members have set up a GoFundMe account for the couple. For more information, go to bit.ly/3NvNN5A.