By Dominik Lobkowicz
Flames consume the home and barn at 85 Patricktown Rd. in Somerville Feb. 1. At least three pigs and two goats were lost in the fire, according to Somerville Fire Chief Mike Dostie. (Photo courtesy Angela Dostie)
Updated Feb. 2 at 2:30 p.m.
A Somerville family and their remaining livestock are being cared for by relatives and neighbors after their house, barn, and several animals fell prey to a fast-moving fire the morning of Feb. 1.
Somerville Assistant Fire Chief Tim Dostie was headed to work just before 10 a.m. Sunday morning when he thought he saw snow blowing off the house at 85 Patricktown Rd., according to Fire Chief Mike Dostie.
The residents of the home, Scott Peasley, Missy Adams, and their four-year-old son, were not home at the time of the fire and were over at Hussey’s General Store in Windsor, Mike Dostie said.
As Tim Dostie looked in his rear-view mirror he realized he was actually seeing smoke, and called in to report it, Mike Dostie said.
“We tried to get in the house, but there was so much smoke in it already. We were able to get one animal out,” Mike Dostie said. “We knew the house was too intense, but we knew the barn was full of animals, so as soon as the firefighters arrived on scene we all concentrated our efforts to get the animals out of the barn.”
Firefighters were on scene at about 10:20 a.m., and ushered the animals out of the barn into the nearby field. As firefighters’ efforts turned to the fire in the house, some of the animals started going back into the barn, Dostie said.
“The animals go back to where they’re safe, unfortunately it didn’t work out good for them. We tried to get them back out, but the fire just … blew through this house so fast,” Dostie said.
The family lost five pigs, two dogs, and two goats in the fire, and three cats are so far unaccounted for, according to Morgan Morrison, Peasley’s sister-in-law.
“One firefighter thought he saw one cat come out through the window, but we haven’t located any of them at this point,” Morrison said Feb. 2.
Firefighters were able to save two cows, two donkeys, five dogs, and four chickens, she said.
From the time Tim Dostie reported the fire to when the flames spread to the barn was only about an hour, Mike Dostie said.
“That’s extremely fast for a fire, and unfortunately it’s old construction so there’s no fire stops in it. Once [the fire] got up into the roof it just followed it right back,” Dostie said. He estimated the house was over 100 years old.
“Once those windows blew out in the front [of the house], the wind came right through the house, course it’s all connected,” and pushed the flames toward the barn, Dostie said.
Fire departments from Somerville, Windsor, Washington, Whitefield, Jefferson, Chelsea, and Palermo responded.
Two water sources were established to help fight the fire, including on the nearby Frye Road, and there were two points of attack set up to help control the fire.
Unfortunately, the truck aimed at preventing the flames’ spread to the barn was put out of commission when a power line came down on the truck, requiring it to be shut down until Central Maine Power arrived, Dostie said.
“Once we lost this source [the truck] to help push back, it just got ahead of us,” he said.
Personnel from the Office of the State Fire Marshal have been to the scene and concluded the fire started in the center of the house, but due to the extensive damage do not expect to determine a specific cause, Dostie said.
The family is now staying with Adams’ parents in West Gardiner, Morgan Morrison said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to benefit the family.
“I know they’ve had a lot of clothing and toy donations for the little one,” and the hope is for donations of money or gift cards to help cover food costs for the family and animals and to help replace lost personal items, Morrison said.
“The outpouring support has been amazing,” Morrison said.
One man, who Dostie was unable to identify, was injured at the fire scene. The man, who was trying to help get the animals out, was knocked over by a pig and received a laceration on his head.
Windsor Rescue treated the man at the scene and he did not require transport to hospital, Dostie said.
Somerville Road Commissioner Jesse Turner brought his excavator to help dig out hot spots in the rubble, and the scene was cleared at about 3:30 p.m., Dostie said.
Despite Turner’s assistance, there was a rekindle in the footprint of the barn at around 10 p.m., and firefighters were back out fighting it for about 90 minutes, Dostie said.
Firefighters put 2,600 gallons of water onto the spot to extinguish it, but the same spot was smoldering again the morning of Feb. 2. Dostie planned to monitor the hot spot throughout the day.
“It’s not going anywhere, it’s in the hole right there,” Dostie said.