The fire on Wednesday at the Laverdiere home at 37 Riverview Drive in Gardiner cost the lives of the family’s beloved family pets and took out a piece of history.

Sgt. Ken Grimes, of the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said that while investigators were at the site Wednesday night when the fire was still burning, an examination of the scene would begin Thursday afternoon. He said he did not know if a cause would be determined by the end of the day.

No one was at home when the fire broke out.

A Gardiner firefighter who was walking across the ridge of the roof fell through into flames at one point. However, he was pulled out almost immediately by another firefighter on a ladder.

Fire Chief Al Nelson said the firefighter was uninjured.

Two of the Laverdieres’ dogs — Mac, a black Labrador, and Sandy, a young dog the family had rescued recently — and a cat died in the fire, said next-door neighbor Deborah Holmes.

Holmes and her husband, Kendall, a former city councilor, drove back from New Hampshire late Wednesday after learning of the fire.

“It’s devastating,” she said.

On Thursday, Deborah Holmes passed on a message from homeowner Andrew Laverdiere.

“They are grateful for the support and concern of the community, but what they would appreciate most of all at this time is privacy while they put their lives back together,” she said.

She said the Laverdieres and their two children, ages 5 and 7, are trying to regroup after losing everything, and that she had been fielding calls from people wanting to assist the Laverdieres.

“They’re very private people and very independent,” Deborah Holmes said. She said the family had insurance on the home.

Published records indicate the Victorian was built in 1890, and photos show it offered a direct view of as well as access across Riverview Drive to the Kennebec River.

The Laverdieres bought it in April 2013 from relatives of Gardiner City Clerk Lisa Gilliam.

“It was absolutely beautiful, very historical,” she said. “When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time there.”

She recalled “tons of bedrooms,” a large black slate sink and wooden floors.

“They did a lot of work on it over the years,” she said. “You appreciate it more when you’re older, the architecture, the fireplaces. It was just special.”

She said her relatives tried to keep the historic part intact even as they did renovations.

“It’s very sad to see that it’s gone,” Gilliam said. “We’re very grateful that everybody got out of it.”

She also noted that the city has a special relief fund for fire victims.

Robin Plourde, the city’s executive assistant, said the fund was started after a series of fires last year in Gardiner and set up as the Gardiner Fire Relief Fund through the United Way of Kennebec Valley.

Those displaced by fire can contact Plourde to obtain aid.

She said she had yet to hear from the Laverdieres as of Thursday morning.

However, three families who lost their homes when fire broke out Dec. 29 at a Winter Street apartment building have received assistance and will be moving to new homes, one in Gardiner and two in Randolph, Plourde said on Thursday.

Donations made out to the Gardiner Fire Relief Fund can be taken to Gardiner City Hall or mailed to the United Way office at 121 Commercial St., Augusta, ME 04330.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.