SMITHFIELD — Fire swept a house on North Pond Wednesday morning, causing extensive damage to the home and destroying most of the owner’s belongings.

Donna Brown watched from under a pine tree as firefighters from five towns broke holes in the roof of her one-and-one-half story bungalow at 21 Mitchell Lane and pumped water from the pond to extinguish the flames.

Brown, who owns a Prudential agency in Skowhegan, appeared stoic but had tears in her eyes.

“You can always rebuild, I guess,” she said.

The blaze broke out sometime before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the house she shares with Cooper, her 3-year-old golden retriever-collie mix.

She said she left the house around 7:30 a.m. to go to work and left Cooper in the garage, which is across the driveway from the house. Jack Rothrock, a neighbor who lives two houses away, discovered the fire.


He said he woke around 9:30 a.m., looked out of his window, saw that it was overcast and surmised that the smoke coming from Brown’s house was smog. Then he realized it was smoke, so he called Brown and then dialed 911, he said.

“I heard a pop and I thought a window had popped out,” he said.

About three dozen firefighters — mostly volunteers — from Smithfield, Oakland, Belgrade, Rome and Norridgewock battled the stubborn fire, which moved up to the attic and shot out through the four-paneled pitched roof.

Smithfield Fire Chief Jody Easler said at the scene the cause of the fire had not been determined but officials believed it started in the basement. He had called the state fire marshal’s office and a fire investigator was expected to help determine the fire’s cause and origin.

Brown said she bought the property several years ago and over the years transformed it into her year-round home, investing some $100,000.

The yellow house with a shingled roof is on the edge of the water with a view across the lake.


Smithfield fire Capt. Melanie Thomas-Winegardner said that when firefighters arrived at the scene, flames were burning through the side of the house. Firefighters scrambled to open holes in the roof to vent the smoke and flames. As the fire began to subside, they pulled down parts of walls and ceilings.

Meanwhile, Brown sat in a folding chair under a tree and called her daughters and friends.

“I’m fine, Cooper’s fine, but the house is a mess,” she told one daughter.

Rothrock, meanwhile, took Cooper out of the garage, put him on a leash and walked him around the property. Thomas-Winegardner brought Brown and Rothrock bottles of water and poured a bottle into a shallow cardboard box for the dog.

Thomas-Winegardner, a security guard at Madison Paper Industries, said she had worked all night and had had a couple of hours of sleep before being called to the fire.

“Everybody’s tired,” she said. “Most of us have to go back to work.”


She asked Brown if she had a place to stay. Brown said she could stay with one of her daughters.

Brown said she did not know whether she would rebuild the home.

“I have insurance, of course,” she said. “I’ll have to talk to them and they’ll come out and look at it.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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