Working smoke detectors possibly could have saved the life of a woman killed in a fire in Limington on Monday, fire officials said.
Ingeborg Young, 52, succumbed to smoke inhalation as she apparently tried to escape from the house, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a news release. Young’s body was found near the front door.
Investigators do not believe the cause of the fire is suspicious but are still investigating, McCausland said. The fire appears to have started in the living room of the portion of the farmhouse in which Young and her husband lived, he said.
Fire Chief Michael Hartford said the smoke detectors in the house were not functioning.
“The best information we have is they had one beeping the week before. Apparently because it was beeping, they removed the battery,” Hartford said. He attributed that information to the property owner, Margaret Boudreau of Limington, who does not live at the farmhouse.
The farmhouse had two apartments, but Young was the only one home at the time of the fire.
A cat and some birds also died in the fire, the chief said.
A passer-by reported the fire at 5:30 a.m. in the 100-year-old farmhouse at the corner of Route 25 and North Road. Hartford said he was the first emergency worker on the scene seven minutes after the call was received, and found two sides of the house on fire.
The first fire truck arrived three minutes later but Hartford had already called for aid from several surrounding departments.
“We attempted several times to make a rescue,” Hartford said. “We knew from the beginning there was probably someone in the building.”
However, firefighters couldn’t get to Young. “Too much fire,” the chief said.
Roughly 100 firefighters responded, many to help deal with a shortage of water. Engines had to use water from a dry hydrant, which runs under the ice into a fire pond located off Route 11.
Young’s husband, John, was at work at the time of the fire and was notified at his workplace, Hartford said.
John Young was at the house Monday afternoon but declined to talk to news media.
“She was really sweet. She was always talking about her chickens,” Samantha Nadeau said of Young. She said Young would regularly walk from her home the 3/4 of a mile to Jongerdens Market, where Nadeau works, passing up offers of rides because she liked the exercise.
The house was destroyed, but firefighters used compressed air foam sprayed between the house and barn to prevent the barn from catching fire, Hartford said. The fire was under control in about an hour.
Hartford was discouraged by the fatality.
“A simple battery and working smoke detector could have saved this woman’s life,” he said. “It’s so simple. Put a nine-volt battery in twice a year and you’ll have time to get out alive.”
Authorities recommend that homeowners check and change the batteries in their smoke detectors when daylight-saving time starts. This year, daylight-saving time began Sunday, he noted.
Route 25 was closed to traffic at the North Road intersection while crews put out the fire.
Young’s death is the fifth in a fire in Maine so far this year, McCausland said.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: