CANAAN — Aldo Baldie and his husband, Ron Pelletier, were in Pittsfield on Monday night at a celebration for a friend in Alcoholics Anonymous who was marking 37 years of sobriety.

As they returned to their home at 289 Browns Corner Road around 9 p.m., they saw flames shooting up from their mobile home.

“The sky over the apartment was red,” Baldie said Tuesday from a room at the Canaan Motel, where he was waiting to get prescriptions that were lost in the fire and that he had been without for a day.

The couple’s three dogs and three cats died in the fire. “They were all lost. My dogs I’ve had for years,” said Baldie, 62.

It was the third fire in less than three weeks that destroyed a home in the town. The cause is under investigation by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, but Jennifer Getchell, who owns the mobile home and was renting it to Baldie and Pelletier, said an old lamp in the living room might have started it.

In addition to Monday night’s fire, a family of five lost their home to a fire Sept. 6 on Main Street and another mobile home was destroyed in a fire on Maple Lane on Sept. 13.


Canaan Fire Chief Troy Bowden said so far the fires are not considered suspicious.

“It’s unusual this time of year,” Bowden said of the number of fires. “It’s not quite wood stove season yet. We’re not into the heating season yet.”

The fires also have taken a toll on the Canaan Fire Department, a volunteer department with 24 members.

“You lose a whole night’s sleep. My guys are volunteers. They have to go to their regular jobs the next day, so you know, it takes a week to catch up on your sleep. By the time you start feeling better, it starts all over again,” Bowden said. “It takes a toll on the guys. It takes a toll on the equipment, too.”

No injuries were reported in Monday night’s fire.

Getchell has owned the mobile home since November 2010. Baldie and Pelletier have lived there since August. Baldie, a former hairdresser, does not work and has disabilities, including Parkinson’s disease, he said. He is also on medication for neuropathy, depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia. Pelletier is retired.


“As we were driving up, I was screaming, ‘Ronnie, open the door from the back,’ and then I’m thinking, ‘Don’t open the door because it’ll explode,'” he said.

He said he had a cellphone, but it hadn’t been activated Monday, and so the two went across the street to the home of Rick Barker, Getchell’s father, to call 911.

The home had one smoke detector, but it was not working, Baldie said. He said he didn’t know what would have caused the fire.

“It’s been terrible. My three little dogs, my three cats, they were indoor animals basically,” he said. The cats were Maine Coon and Siamese mixes, sisters named Queeny, Miss America and Princess Hootie.

The dogs included two long-haired Chihuahuas, Susie and Chiquita, and a dingo, Chowie. Baldie said one of the dogs was a puppy that was just a few weeks old, and he had planned to give it to a friend whose dog had died recently.

Baldie has a picture of the cats, he said. “I would say, ‘OK now, smile, cats, I’m taking a picture,’ and they would group up on the bed. I got all three of them,” he said. “I don’t have the heart to take it off my phone.”


Virginia Jewell, who lives next door to the property, said her 6-year-old son woke her up Monday night when he saw the fire.

“It’s sad,” she said. “We’re moving into winter and something like this is completely devastating. It’s hard to start over.”

When asked whether the fire’s origin is considered suspicious, Bowden said he was not sure what the fire marshal investigators had found.

Firefighters from Hartland, Skowhegan and St. Albans responded to the fire call in addition to the Canaan Fire Department. Baldie said he wanted to thank the American Red Cross and his doctor at Redington-Fairview General Hospital, Mark Doughty, for helping him get his prescriptions Tuesday.

The two men are in need of shelter and clothing. Anyone interested in helping can call Baldie at 592-5161.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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