A Bridgton homeowner had to be rescued twice Thursday after fire broke out in a barn attached to his house.

Dave Fadden, his wife and daughter were pulled out a window by neighbors who saw the flames on their way to work early Thursday. Fadden was later rescued again, this time by a Bridgton police officer, after he went back inside for his cats and some family possessions.

Fadden, a retired Marine whose great-great-grandfather built the homestead, was taken to Bridgton Hospital with a broken rib, treated and released, according to a family member.

The fire at 766 South High St. – Route 117 – was spotted about 6 a.m. by two men who live on a nearby road, said Bruce Fadden, Dave Fadden’s brother and also a Bridgton resident.

“They could see the flames coming out of the barn and called 911,” he said. The dispatcher told them to wake up the residents, so one honked their vehicle’s horn while the other ran to the house.

It was the horn that woke Fadden, his wife, Anne Marie, and their 23-year-old daughter, Victoria, his brother said.


They tried to climb out the bedroom window, but needed help, he said. Victoria, who has autism, couldn’t understand what was going on and resisted going out the window. Without the two men’s help, she might not have escaped, Bruce Fadden said.

“They dragged everyone out the window in their bedclothes and bare feet and got them into the car,” Bruce Fadden said.

But Dave Fadden went back inside for the family’s four cats.

When two police officers arrived, the two women were just emerging through a first-floor window. The officers could hear Dave Fadden yelling inside the house as the barn and its connection to the house burned.

Officers Greg Hammond and Todd Smolinsky could see Fadden inside, grabbing possessions while trying to catch one of the cats.

Fadden “was more interested in his cats and belongings than he was in exiting the building,” Hammond said. He believes that Fadden did not realize how severe the fire had become.


“We could feel the heat from where we were. This was an intense fire,” Hammond said. “The building was literally collapsing on itself and wires were coming down at that point.”

Fadden got hold of a cat, brought it to the window and told Hammond he still had to get his suitcase. Hammond wasn’t waiting. He grabbed Fadden and yanked him out as the fire roared nearby and led him away from the house.

“The cat was not even in the realm of consideration for me,” Hammond said. “It’s not time for discussion. He was assisted out the window.”

The initial call was received at 6:04 a.m. and the first officer was there by 6:10 a.m., according to dispatch records. The first fire truck arrived two minutes later.

“In small towns, when you have volunteer firefighters, in the initial stages they weren’t getting any responders,” Hammond said. “If the Fire Department doesn’t have people to respond and there are people inside, that’s obviously a concern.”

Hammond, who worked for 20 years in the Nashua, New Hampshire, Police Department, joined the Bridgton department in March.


Police Chief Richard Stillman praised Hammond for getting the homeowner out before he suffered more serious injuries.

“It doesn’t get better than that if you can help somebody get through a very difficult situation,” Stillman said.

Dave Fadden sustained a broken rib, which he thinks happened when he was first pulled from the building – one of the neighbors who helped the family said he heard something crack.

Fire Chief Glen Garland said nine departments responded to the fire, which destroyed the barn and damaged the house. Firefighters used more than 1,000 feet of hose to bring water uphill from a nearby pond. They saved the main part of the house from serious structural damage.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is still investigating and has not released its findings yet.

The fire destroyed the contents of the barn, which included Dave Fadden’s tractors and many antiques, as well as Anne Marie Fadden’s minivan.

“She had one more payment to pay for the car,” Bruce Fadden said.


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