FARMINGTON — Listing every possession you own, right down to coats and boots, seems like an easy task until circumstances force you to undertake it. Farmington resident Diane Bates is having to make such a list for an insurance claim after a fire ravaged the home she shared with her brother, her niece and her niece’s boyfriend last week, leaving them temporarily homeless and destroying all of their belongings.

“We have to list every little thing. At night I wake up and that’s all that pops into my head,” Bates said.

The fire at 120 Vacation Estates Lane was reported at 5:23 p.m. Wednesday evening and drew 60 firefighters from seven Franklin County departments to douse the flames. The fire appears to have started in the basement, though due to the scope of the damage, Farmington fire rescue Chief Terry Bell says the cause will most likely remain unknown.

No one was home when the fire occurred. Bates’ brother, Bernard Bates, the home’s owner, was in Connecticut for work. Bates’ niece, Rebecca Couture, and her boyfriend, Brandon Mayo, were in Portland at Maine Medical Center where Couture is confined to bed rest for her pregnancy. Bates was on her way home when she saw smoke billowing from the area, and fire rescue arrived shortly after she reached the burning home.

“Whatever I walked out of the house with that day is all I have. I’m overwhelmed with all of that,” Bates said.

When Bates arrived at her burning home Wednesday evening, her first thought was the well-being of the four pets inside the house. She tried to open the front door in hopes that they would run out and escape the fire, but a fire marshal stopped her.

Bates’ dog, Baretta; her cat, Barkley; and two kittens belonging to Couture, Juice and Little Kitty, perished in the fire.

The ranch style home off Holley Lane has been in the Bates family for nearly 20 years. Now without a place to go home to, Bates worries about the future of the family.

“It’s very difficult,” she said. “I never thought I would be homeless, and I’m homeless right now.”

Bates has been staying in a hotel since Wednesday night, her brother has been staying in Connecticut for work, and with Couture still in the hospital awaiting the birth of her child, Mayo is staying with friends.

Bates said that Monday they will move into a cabin owned by a neighbor who is letting them stay there temporarily until they get back on their feet.

The house was insured, and now Bates must begin the process of filing a claim, including a list of everything that was lost in the fire.

“We all try to do what we can. I have to go out and buy everything, tooth brush and tooth paste, all those small things you don’t think of,” Bates said. “We’re trying to take it one day at a time.”

Two GoFundMe fundraising pages have been established to help the family relocate.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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