CANAAN — A family of five lost their home on Main Street and all their belongings Sunday morning in a fire that started when a kettle of grease used for frying potatoes apparently boiled over.

David and Tanya McGregor said they have no house insurance and their three daughters, all in high school, lost all their new school clothes.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” David McGregor, 48, said at the scene.

The one-story house was gutted, the windows broken out and the roof burned, but the frame was still standing.

Fire Chief Troy Bowden said later Sunday that just before the fire was reported at 10:38 a.m., french fries were being cooked in a kettle of grease on an open-top stove in the family’s kitchen and the kettle had no cover.

“I would say it boiled over,” he said, adding that when he investigated the fire after it was out, he found the kettle with the french fries still in it.


At the scene Sunday, about 30 firefighters from Canaan, Skowhegan and Hartland worked to put the fire out as Clinton firefighters covered the fire station.

The McGregor family stood by watching as their three-bedroom house burned. The family was able to rescue their dog, Giddy, a 16-month-old Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix, from the fire.

Tanya McGregor, 37, was crying as friends and family members tried to comfort her. She said two of her daughters were not at home when the fire broke out.

“I put french fries in some grease, I went into the living room to get something and I walked back into my kitchen and fire was everywhere,” she said.

Bowden, the fire chief, said she tried to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher but was unable to do so.

“It was a grease fire and it can get out of hand quick, but she made an attempt. She definitely made an attempt,” he said.


David McGregor said they had lived in the one-story house on 5 acres about 21/2 years, and the house was a gift — literally.

“We were paying $300 a month in rent and the owners called us up 14 months ago and gave it to us,” he said. “I didn’t know what to say. They are very good people that did that for us. We had been paying on it for about a year. Where do you find people who do that nowadays?”

He said they had just bought new furniture and put it into the house and were planning to pay the taxes this week and buy house insurance. The former owners recently had spent $5,000 for a new heating unit for the house, he said.

Bowden, who was in Stockton Springs when the fire broke out and drove to the scene, said he put the family in touch with the American Red Cross, which will give them at least three nights in a motel and vouchers for food and clothing.

The McGregors’ daughters, Catherine, 17, Logan, 15, and Glenice, 14, all attend Skowhegan Area High School.

Their house is across Main Street from a KOA Campground, just outside the town’s center.


The girls’ grandmother Glenice Woodman, of Skowhegan, said she and her son, David McGregor, were at her Skowhegan home when they got a call informing them the his house was on fire.

“He’s a diabetic and all of his medication is in the house,” she said at the scene.

A firefighter came out of the house later and reported the medication was destroyed in the fire.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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