WATERVILLE — A fire that destroyed an Oak Street home Tuesday was caused by improper disposal of smoking materials, according to fire officials.

Sgt. Ken Grimes of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said the fire at the home of Tracey Bragdon and her three children started in a first-floor bedroom.

“The remains of cigarettes were disposed of in a trash can, and the materials in the trash can ignited,” Grimes said Wednesday. “It’s an accidental fire.”

The fire, reported at 9:01 a.m. by a next-door neighbor, tore through the two-story, wood-frame house, destroying it within minutes.

Waterville fire Captain Michael Michaud said Wednesday that 29 firefighters from Waterville, Winslow and Fairfield fought the fire.

Two firefighters were treated for dehydration; one at the scene and another at MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Campus, where he was treated and released, Michaud said.

Bragdon and her children had left the house moments before the fire started and were walking on nearby Ticonic Street when the neighbor, Steve Nye, chased them down to say their house was on fire, Bragdon and Nye said Tuesday at the scene.

Donald Zaltzberg, who was painting a house across the street at the time, saw the smoke and fire and ran to the house, kicking in a glass door and saving the family’s dog, Chaos.

The 10-room house was insured, according to Bragdon.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross provided housing, food and clothing for Bragdon and her family, according to John Osbun of the Red Cross disaster action team. Osbun arrived at the scene Tuesday from Lewiston with Red Cross volunteers Nick Pelletier and Stephanie Merrill, he said.

Jason Shedlock, emergency services director for the American Red Cross of Maine, said his organization responds to fires an average of five days a week.

“It’s all volunteer, so basically what we survive on is contributions, just like a lot of other nonprofits do,” Shedlock said. “Our volunteers are the ones who get a call at 2 a.m.”

“We raise money throughout the entire state,” he said. “A donation from someone in Waterville goes into a larger pot and is used throughout Maine.”

Shedlock said the Red Cross also is in need of volunteers.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]


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