The state fire marshal’s office is trying to determine what caused a fire Tuesday afternoon that heavily damaged the home of former Rep. Sumner A. “Bud” Jones Jr. on Peltoma Avenue in Pittsfield, destroying many belongings of Jones and his wife, Barbara.

Pittsfield Fire Chief Bernie Williams said Wednesday that firefighters at first believed Barbara Jones was inside the single-family, single-story, wood frame modular home when they arrived at the scene, but they later learned she was at a neighbor’s house. The fire was reported at 4:32 p.m. and the home suffered “exceedingly heavy damage.”

“There was heavy smoke and fire on the rear of the building when we arrived,” Williams said. “We first were told the lady of the house was still in there, so we did a cool-down shot to see if we could get in, but she was at the neighbor’s. That was a good thing, because she’s 90 years old or about that. We extinguished the fire. There was a tremendous amount of heat in the house, a lot of heat damage as well as smoke, a lot of fire damage on the living room side of it, because that appears to be where it started.”

Sgt. Joel Davis and state fire investigators Kevin McMaster and Jeremy Damren from the state fire marshal’s office worked at the fire scene. Davis said in a phone interview Wednesday that a cause had not been determined, but the fire probably was accidental.

“There’s nothing obviously suspicious about it. It’s just undetermined at this time,” Davis said.

Sumner Jones, a retired dairy farmer and insurance agent, served in the 117th, 118th and 119th Legislatures as a Republican, representing District 104, which includes Pittsfield, Clinton and Detroit.

Williams said Barbara Jones was taken by ambulance to Sebasticook Valley Hospital to be checked because it appeared she had soot on her. He said he thinks she was released from the hospital later Tuesday. Williams and other firefighters were at the scene of a two-vehicle crash involving entrapment on U.S. Route 2 in Pittsfield when they got the call about the fire at 242 Peltoma Ave., he said. Five people were taken to the hospital from that crash, he said.

More than two dozen volunteer firefighters from Pittsfield, Detroit, Burnham, Hartland and Newport responded to reports about the fire and remained at the scene until about 7 p.m. Williams stayed until nearly 8 p.m.

Sumner Jones was at Manson Park watching a ball game when he heard the firetrucks and learned they were heading to his home, according to Williams. He said he thinks the couple is staying with relatives.

“The fire burned, I’m thinking, quite a while before anyone discovered it,” Williams said. “The home was super well insulated with a metal roof, which kept the heat inside of it.”

He said firefighters were able to salvage file cabinets and paperwork from the cellar of the house, which was insured.

“The fire marshal people said, ‘We can’t believe you guys stopped this fire, based on the fact that you were so far away and basically kept the fire in the room where it started,” Williams said. “One of the reasons that we had such good success is, I sent one truck back from the accident scene to the fire station, and it was just backing into the station with a rescue unit when this came in and they grabbed an engine and another firefighter’s gear they knew would be coming by to get to the station.”

Williams, who has been fire chief more than 40 years, said he and other firefighters were about 5 miles away from the fire scene on U.S. Route 2 when they learned of the fire. Pittsfield police and a Somerset County Sheriff’s deputy were at both the accident and fire scenes, he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17