January 18, 2013

Madison family loses home to early morning Friday fire

Bill and Betty Perry's Madison Avenue home destroyed; crews fight blaze in near-0 temperatures

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

MADISON -- A Madison Avenue family lost their home and belongings early Friday in a fire fought in sub-zero temperatures by six area fire departments.

click image to enlarge

Becky Williams, 40, becomes emotional as she looks at the second floor her parents' Madison Avenue home, which was destroyed by fire around 3 a.m. Friday. "I can't believe no one was hurt," Williams said, through her the hand over her mouth as she fought back tears.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Becky Williams, 40, walks through the iced-over entryway of her parents' Madison Avenue home, in Madison, which was destroyed by fire around 3 a.m. Friday. Six area fire departments responded to the blaze in temperatures below 0 degrees.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Additional Photos Below

No one was injured in the blaze that ripped through the second story of Bill and Betty Perry's home about 3:15 a.m., collapsing part of the upstairs into the lower level.

"It was fire coming down from upstairs; coming from the ceiling down -- big black and orange smoke," said the Perrys' son, Michael Williams, who lives next door. "I tried to put it out with water that was on the stove, but I couldn't do it. I've got a few burns here and there. It was wicked cold."

The metal roof kept the fire "like an oven" inside the building, Madison Fire Chief Roger Lightbody Sr. said.

Overnight temperatures in the area were in the single digits above zero, with a wind chill of minus 4, according to meteorologist Chris Kimble at the National Weather Service office in Gray.

Lightbody said wet firefighters' gear froze solid in the cold and had to be changed.

"Ice on the ground was the big problem, walking around, that was terrible," he said "The gauges on the trucks froze up, but they still could pump. We had good operators on there so they knew what they were doing."

The State Fire Marshal's Office said faulty electrical wiring in the attic caused the fire.

Betty Perry said she, her husband and a house guest were asleep when the fire started, but the smell of smoke woke her and she yelled at the others inside to leave. The friend, Michelle Jacques, brought Bill and Betty Perry next door to their son's home and he made the call reporting the fire.

The Perrys' daughter, Becky Williams, who lives on Shusta Road, was told of the fire in a telephone call from her brother.

"It was scary," Williams said. "It was pretty bad with lots and lots and lots of smoke."

She said her father grew up in the house and she lived there with her son Cole until last year.

"The Fire Department was amazing," she said. "They were fighting the fire and taking family pictures off the wall for us. I lost all of my stuff upstairs."

She said her parents will stay with her brother next door until a mobile home is in place in the spring.

The homeowners were not insured. Three dogs were saved and a small cat was still missing by late morning.

The American Red Cross will assist the family, Lightbody said.

Doug Harlow -- 612-2367

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Additional Photos

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A tear streams down Becky Williams' cheeck as she tours tour what's left of her parents' Madison Avenue, Madison home, with her son Cole, 16.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Cole Williams, 16, left, and his mother, Becky Williams, 40, tour what's left of a Madison Avenue home destroyed by fire around 3 a.m. Friday.

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Icicles hang from the ceiling of the living room in Becky Williams' parents' Madison home, which was destroyed by fire around 3 a.m. Friday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Becky Williams, 40, inspects the ice-covered walls of the second floor of her parents' Madison home, which was destroyed by fire around 3 a.m. Friday morning. Officials believe the fire started near this room, because of faulty electrical wiring.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans


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