STARKS — Andy Sanville and his girlfriend Bryanna Gray lost their home and possessions to a fire Wednesday. Since then, people in the area have given them new wardrobes, two couches, tables, chairs, a stove and a refrigerator.

On Saturday night, their neighbors continued to provide for them. An impromptu collection raised about $700 at a town dinner, which followed the daylong Starks Family Pumpkin Festival, said Town Clerk Jennifer Zweig Hebert.

Sanville, whose mobile home on Locke Hill Road was destroyed, said he doesn’t like taking donations but is thankful for the community’s generosity.

He plans to build another home after third-degree burns on his right hand heal, he said.

“I’ve got to start from the ground up,” he said.

Hebert said Saturday’s free festivities at the Starks Community Center offered pumpkins for sale, folk and bluegrass music by local band Sassafras Stomp, a chowder and chili competition, face painting, a bounce house and a potluck supper.

“When a lot of people give a little, it turns out to be a great success,” Hebert said.

Part of the annual event includes recognizing Starks residents who have contributed to the town in the past year.

Vincent Lovell received the Town Hero award, Hebert said, for finding his neighbor, Robert Hooker, who got lost in the woods overnight in June. Although about 50 people searched for Hooker, including professional search and rescue teams, Lovell was the one who found him.

Gwen and Ernie Hilton received the Citizens of the Year award. Gwen Hilton earned it for leading work to revise the town’s comprehensive plan, Hebert said. Ernie Hilton earned it for leading the committee working to have Starks withdraw from School Administrative District 59.

The Locke Hill Road blaze started when Sanville, 19, was trying to light his wood stove around 8 p.m. two weeks ago with a jug of gasoline. The jug caught fire, melted out of his hand and ignited a corner of the home, he said. He tried putting the fire out with a fire extinguisher, but the flames caught the couch.

He said he knew he shouldn’t have been using gasoline.

The home filled with smoke. “I was down on the ground, and I couldn’t breathe,” he said.

Gray was home, and “I just hollered to her, ‘Get out of the trailer. The trailer’s on fire,'” he said.

Gray and two cats escaped, but two pit bulls named Sandie and Blue died in the blaze, Sanville said.

Firefighters from Starks, Anson and Madison responded. Sasha Larouche, of Madison, owned the home.

Sanville said he is now trying to collect building supplies to build his own house.

He said people can call him at 431-4365 if they have an item to give.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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