CLINTON — A former state representative is homeless after fire destroyed his double-wide mobile home at 389 Mutton Lane Thursday morning.

Arthur Clement, 61, a Democrat who represented House District 104 from 1992-1994 and has run for re-election since, was not home when the fire broke out just before 11:15 a.m.

Firefighters from several towns battled the blaze, which tore through the home, destroying the back side of the structure.

Fire Chief Gary Petley said at the scene that the cause of the fire had not been determined. When firefighters arrived, the right side of the home was burning and fire then spread to the rear, he said.

“The owner said he placed a power strip in his bedroom and it’s been buzzing on and off,” Petley, who has been fire chief 23 of his 34 years in the department, said. “It (fire’s origin) appears to be somewhere in that vicinity. It’s a total loss. Everything’s gutted right out. There’s nothing on the back side at all.”

Clement arrived home as crews from Clinton, Winslow, Fairfield, Waterville, Canaan and Burnham were spraying water on the home, which has a large front lawn and a long driveway.

As the fire subsided inside, a firefighter brought out a black bag containing Clement’s medication for a liver transplant he had six years ago.

“I’ve got to have this medication or I’ll die,” Clement said, sifting through the blackened bottles.

Clement left home around 8 a.m., but returned to retrieve a cup of coffee he had forgotten and everything was fine. He said Madeline Burns, who lives across the road, called him to say his house was burning. He was at the Benton business, Mainely Handrails, at the time.

“Oh, my God, what do I do?” he wondered aloud, watching firefighters cut out burning walls. “I’ve lost everything I worked for. Reminds me of when I grew up. We got burned out when I was a kid. It brings back all that stuff. My father had built new furniture and everything and didn’t have insurance on the house. I’ve got insurance, but it doesn’t make anything better.”

Clement said he can stay with his daughter in China or his son in Westbrook.

He didn’t know what caused the fire, but mentioned the power strip in his bedroom.

“I put that in there a week-and-a-half ago,” he said. “I put an air conditioner in and couldn’t put in all the plugs so I put the strip in and plugged in a heating pad, clock, fan.”

He became emotional when he said his daughter and grandchild lived with him until recently.

“I’m so glad they weren’t here,” he said.

Clement said he had done a lot of work on the home, which was built in 2000 or 2001.

“I bought this and put in new hardwood floors, all new appliances, new sinks — everything new. I had a big house on Hinckley Road and lived there 20 years.” He said he moved from his Hinckley Road home after a divorce.

Clement has lived for the past six years with a transplanted liver.

“My son gave me 60 percent of his liver April 14, 2008,” Clement said. “He gave up his basketball career for his father.”

Meanwhile, firefighters put out two calls for someone to drive the cascade equipment truck, which replenishes firefighter air packs, from the Waterville fire department to Clinton, but no one was available to drive it. The cascade truck equipment is owned by Central Maine Fire Attack School. Only full time firefighters and fire attack school members are insured to drive the truck. Attack school members were out of town and some firefighters were on vacation.

David LaFountain, chief of the Waterville and Winslow fire departments, said there were not a lot of firefighters who needed the cascade truck at the Clinton fire, so it wasn’t critical that it be on scene Thursday.

“But it could have been,” he added.

Area departments need part-time and volunteer firefighters, according to LaFountain. He noted that many of the fire officials at the Clinton fire were chiefs, assistant chiefs and captains.

“Thirty years ago we had a waiting list,” LaFountain said. “Now, nobody wants to raise their hand to do community service unless its court-ordered.

“We could use some young muscles — part timers and volunteers,” he said. “Every community needs more help, especially if they’re available on the week days during business hours. Everybody struggles for help during business hours.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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