READFIELD — Kevin Boucher saved his brother’s ashes, but nearly everything else was devoured by the flames.

The small consolation came as Boucher, his wife and daughter stood in the cold late Sunday night while the blaze tore through the home they had spent the last decade making their own. It was the latest blow following some tough losses the last two months — Boucher’s close friend and business partner, Bruce Soucy, and his beloved brother James have both died since December.

All the Bouchers have left is the urn that holds James Boucher’s ashes; the fire consumed every tangible reminder of his life with no way to ever gather more.

“All of his pictures, all of his belongings, are gone,” Siera Boucher said. “That’s really the hardest part.”

Siera Boucher, 21, and her parents, Kevin and Noreen Boucher, made it safely outside moments before flames exploded to life inside their home at 110 Plains Road.

“I opened my door and it was couldn’t-even-breathe smoke, can’t-see-anything smoke,” Siera Boucher said. “The second we came out, the stairs and breezeway blew up in flames.”

The fire gutted the home, forcing the Bouchers to move in with relatives.

Readfield Fire Chief Lee Mank said the fire started in a chimney attached to a living room fireplace and quickly spread to the second floor and attic of the two-story home.

Nobody was hurt. The Boucher’s escaped with James Boucher’s remains, the family dog and the clothes on their backs.

“It stinks bad,” Kevin Boucher said. “I’m just glad my family got out.”

Kevin and Noreen Boucher met with an insurance representative Monday morning. The American Red Cross offered assistance, but the Boucher’s declined the invitation.

“We’re all set,” Kevin Boucher said. “Let them save it for others who need it. We have a good network of family and friends. We’re very thankful for them.”

The fire started about 11:30 p.m. Sunday and spread quickly — through the walls by the time firefighters arrived, Mank said.

Siera Boucher said she crawled into bed shortly after 8 p.m. She went downstairs for a drink around 10:30 p.m. and noticed that the flames in the fireplace were nearly out.

Less than hour later, she awoke to Noreen Boucher’s screams.

Noreen Boucher is unsure what roused her from her sleep, but said the house was filled with smoke. “I just sat straight up,” she said. “I knew.”

Siera Boucher said there were several smoke detectors in the house, but it was her mother, not the detectors, that roused everyone. All the home’s bedrooms were upstairs.

Responding crews came from Readfield and the five other Lakes Region Mutual Aid communities — Fayette, Manchester, Mount Vernon, Vienna and Wayne — as well as Belgrade and Winthrop. Mank said the extra equipment was needed to keep water running in temperatures that dropped to near zero.

“That definitely was a factor,” Mank said. “We had trucks freezing up and we didn’t know how long we were going to be there.”

Mank said crews were able to maintain an ample supply of water throughout the evening. The fire was under control by 1:30 a.m. Monday and the last firefighters left at 3:15 a.m.

Mank said it was not necessary to call for an investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office because the fire had clearly started in the chimney.

Kevin Boucher praised the work of firefighters, particularly Mank, who followed up with the family Monday and arranged sand for the driveway, which iced over as firefighters worked.

While relatively unscathed on the outside, a look inside the entrance on Monday unveiled the destruction wrought by the flames: melted electronics, charred furniture and empty picture frames silhouetted the charred walls and first-floor ceiling that now sags under its own weight.

“It’s hard to believe this is even your house,” Siera Boucher said, surveying the damage.

The remnants offer a reminder of how close to disaster the family had come, said Sallie Beane, Noreen Boucher’s sister.

“It’s scary,” she said. “Just the thought of losing them.”

Beane said a fire destroyed a home at the same location several years ago, before the Boucher’s owned it. The Bouchers bought the house as a fixer-upper about 11 years ago and had labored on it since.

“It was just starting to come together,” Beane said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]


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