FARMINGDALE — A fire burned down a barn, caused extensive damage to a home and possibly killed several animals including newborn piglets Wednesday afternoon. 

No one was home at the time. Two people who spotted the fire while driving by were able to save a sow and one piglet from the barn, but it’s likely that other animals died.

The flames took more than an hour to extinguish. A state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire and a small explosion that occurred in the house.

Tiffany Dawbin, of Hallowell, reported the fire at about 4:20 p.m. She said she saw the barn burning while passing the house on her way to pick up her children at her in-laws’ house.

A man who was driving by also stopped and began hosing down the barn.

“He grabbed the hose and starting spraying the barn down, enough so that we could open the door and coax the mama pig out,” Dawbin said. “And the baby pigs were running around, and we just had enough time to get one of them.”

Dawbin said the sow appeared to be burned. As firefighters worked to contain the blaze, the sow wandered around the property along with a group of ducks.

Neighbor Denise Garland said the family who lives in the house loves animals and also had goats, chickens and at least one dog.

Firefighters and neighbors were trying to find the residents of the home at 477 Litchfield Road. Neighbors said they moved in around two years ago, and no one was well-acquainted with the family — Ted Chaffee, his wife and three children that Chaffee homeschooled.

There was a fire at the same address last July. A heat lamp keeping a duck warm in the attached garage ignited loose hay and caused a small amount of damage.

On Wednesday, the barn burned to the ground, and an addition on the house that was adjacent to the barn was left with only partial walls standing.

Farmingdale Assistant Fire Chief Mike LaPlante said firefighters tried to keep the fire out of the house, but it sustained significant damage from smoke and heat.

“With old houses, there are false walls, false ceilings built on over the years,” LaPlante said. “The fire gets trapped into those spaces, and you’ve got to get in there to dig them out.”

Fighting the fire was also made more difficult by the house’s location far from any water source.

Several fire departments sent tanker trucks to transport water. The departments that responded included Chelsea, Hallowell, Litchfield, Manchester, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner.

After firefighters arrived, there was what LaPlante described as a minor explosion near the front of the house, causing part of the facade to bow outward. Part of the second floor was gone, and LaPlante said concerns about the structure’s stability limited firefighters’ search of the space.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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