February 12

Farmingdale home destroyed in wind-fueled fire

‘I had over $250,000 tied up in the place, and I just lost everything,’ said the owner of the unfinished home off Hallowell-Litchfield Road.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGDALE — Armand Fournier’s dream home was almost finished. Only the cabinets and trim were left. On Tuesday, he watched it burn flat.

click image to enlarge

TOTAL LOSS: Firefighters from several communities work at the the scene of a fire Tuesday on Rose Lane in Farmingdale.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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A fire that started around 4 p.m. ripped through Fournier’s property on Rose Lane, just off Hallowell-Litchfield Road, destroying the home and an attached apartment. The only person living at the complex, a woman in the apartment, got out safely.

Fournier, at the scene, said the home was 90 percent finished and he had been working on it for about three years. He and his girlfriend, Stephanie Hill, were planning to move there from their current home about five minutes away on Springvale Road in West Gardiner.

“I don’t have any insurance on the place. How would you feel?” said Fournier, 67. “I had over $250,000 tied up in the place, and I just lost everything.”

West Gardiner Assistant Fire Chief Thomas McLaughlin said he was the first on the scene of the fire, shortly after 4 p.m. West Gardiner trucks soon followed him; and later, crews from Farmingdale, Gardiner, Chelsea, Pittston, Litchfield, Hallowell and Randolph showed up to help. By the time crews could arrive and set up, however, the fire had spread.

Deputy Chief Mike Laplante, of the Farmingdale Fire Department, said high wind drove the blaze, which had started in the house, into other parts of the building. A Gardiner fireman was atop a ladder using a deck gun to fight the fire from above.

Laplante said when he walked around the property to look at the fire, he had to back off because the blaze burned too hot.

“I was probably 100 feet away, and it was untenable even at that distance,” he said.

In 2006, there was a suspicious fire on Fournier property on Hallowell-Litchfield Road, according to Kennebec Journal archives.

That house, left vacant after a fire months earlier, burned again on a March morning. The Office of State Fire Marshal said that fire was intentionally set, but newspaper archives don’t indicate that anyone was charged in the 2006 fire.

The cause of Tuesday’s fire wasn’t immediately known, firefighters said. Kenneth MacMaster, an investigator with the fire marshal’s office, interviewed Fournier and Hill on Tuesday at the scene, where he said he still needed to talk to other witnesses and couldn’t guess at a cause for the fire. Firefighters had the fire largely out by 6:30 p.m.

Fournier and Hill had hoped to move into the home by May. She said he made the cabinets and an entertainment center by hand and built a cedar closet and finished tiling floors. Almost all of it was lost in the fire.

“It meant so much to us because it’s the last place he would have built,” Hill said.

This is a corrected version of this story.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652 mshepherd@centralmaine.com Twitter: @mikeshepherdme
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