DRESDEN

August 24, 2011

Fire destroys Dresden home

Family of 6 homeless as blaze consumes log cabin residence

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

DRESDEN -- A family of six was left homeless Tuesday when a fast moving fire ripped through their East Pittston Road home.

click image to enlarge

TOTAL LOSS: Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire that destroyed a family of six’s home Tuesday afternoon at 148 East Pittston Road in Dresden. Joseph Dowling and Taylor Alley owned the home, and three of the couple’s four children were there at the time the fire broke out. Everyone, including a family dog, got out of the home.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

SITE OF MEMORIES LOST: Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire that destroyed a family of six’s home Tuesday afternoon at 148 East Pittston Road in Dresden. Homeowners Joseph Dowling and Taylor Alley made headlines in May when their son, Jett Dowling, was born in the front seat of the Jeep shown here on Route 27 in Chelsea. His twin brother, Jaxson Dowling, came along 1 hour, 15 minutes later at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

"My neighbor said it was up in five minutes," homeowner Joseph Dowling said in disbelief, his infant son sleeping peacefully in his arms. "Everything is gone."

Nobody was injured in the fire, but the house and a Jeep Liberty parked nearby were a complete loss, Dresden Fire Chief Jerry Lilly said.

Dowling -- who shares the home with his partner, Taylor Alley, a 6-year-old girl, a 4-year-old girl and 3-month-old twin boys -- said the home is insured.

Alley said her employer has already offered the family a large recreational vehicle to live in, and there are several members of the extended family in the area.

Lilly said he is unsure where or how the fire started. An investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office arrived at the scene Tuesday afternoon.

Dowling said he has lived in the chalet-style log cabin home at 148 East Pittston Road since it was built in 2003.

He was at work around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday when Alley called to say the house was on fire.

Alley, the babies and one of the older children were in the home, Alley said. Her other daughter was next door at a relative's house.

"We were inside the living room," Alley said, when she saw smoke coming from one of the children's bedrooms. "I went and looked and saw a little flame and smoke."

Alley said she ran to the sink to fill a pan with water to throw on the flames.

"That made it bigger," she said.

Dowling, speaking to Alley via telephone, urged her to go to the basement to grab a fire extinguisher. Unable to find the extinguisher, Alley ran from the house when she began to hear windows breaking from the heat.

Alley said she took the children and the family dog outside the house, seeking safety on the lawn.

Dresden firefighter Jared Blake said the fire was already rolling out windows and the roof when he arrived.

"Everyone was out, safe and sound, when I got here," Blake said.

Lilly said more than 30 firefighters arrived to fight the blaze from several communities, including Pittston, Richmond, Randolph, West Bath, Woolwich, Wiscasset, Alna and Edgecomb. Lilly said the home's remote location, on a narrow dirt road, did not hamper the effort.

"We had plenty of water," Lilly said. "It was just too far gone."

Alley's mind raced with what the family had lost, including essentials such as diapers, medication and clothes.

"We lost our car seats, cribs and 20 cans of formula I just bought yesterday," Alley said, her voice cracking.

Dowling and Alley made headlines in May when their son, Jett Dowling, was born in the front seat of the Jeep on Route 27 in Chelsea. His twin brother, Jaxson Dowling, came along an hour and 15 minutes later at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta.

Alley thought of the delivery as she watched her home, and the Jeep that holds the special memory, go up in smoke.

She said she wanted to run back into the house to get the key so she could move the Jeep, but Blake convinced her to stay out of the burning building.

"I just wanted to save something," she said. "It happened so fast."

Craig Crosby -- 621-5642

ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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