SKOWHEGAN — A family of five was left homeless Wednesday morning after a smoky house fire that also killed the family dog.

Dozens of firefighters, trucks and equipment from six area towns went to the scene just after 11 a.m. at the corner of Blair and Cote streets on the otherwise quiet east side of North Avenue.

No one was home when the fire was reported and no one was injured. The residents owned the home but were not insured, Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard said.

Howard himself carried the dog, Pickles, out of the burned-out structure and covered the animal with a white blanket.

Flames were showing when the first crews arrived at the single family, two-story home.

“There was fire throughout the first floor and most of the second floor on arrival,” Howard said. “We did a primary search and made sure nobody was in the structure; there was a dog that was pulled out.”


Howard said the fire started in the wall around a wood stove in the living room. He said there was no clearance between the wood of the house frame and the chimney. He said wood exposure to the direct heat of the chimney had probably been going on for years.

“Today was the day,” he said of the fire.

Fire crews from Skowhegan, Madison, Fairfield, Cornville, Norridgewock and Canaan were dispatched to the fire.

Howard said his department conferred with officials at the Office of State Fire Marshal and agreed that the fire was unintentional and state investigators would not be needed. He said because of the extent of heat and smoke damage, he would consider the interior of the home to be a total loss.

Danette Dalton, who lived in the house with her boyfriend, Michael Smith, and a third person, arrived from hunting in Cornville and was consoled by Skowhegan police, friends and family members.

She later took off her orange hunting jacket and laid it over the blanket covering Pickles, her dog.


Diana Smith, of Cornville, Michael Smith’s mother, said Dalton’s two children stay at the house on weekends. She said Dalton had been hunting Wednesday morning on her property in Cornville and was not at home when the fire started.

A GoFundME page with a $5,000 goal has been set up online on behalf of Danette Dalton and her family.

A local Red Cross Disaster Action Response Team member will be assisting the five people who have been displaced by the house fire, Justin Burkhardt, regional director of communications, said in an email.

“The Red Cross will ensure the family has a safe place to sleep tonight, food and other essentials, Burkhardt said. “Over the next several days, the Red Cross will stay in contact with the family to provide financial assistance and community referrals, as they begin their road to recovery.”

The Red Cross provides food, clothing, shelter and emotional support for those affected by home fires and other disasters. People who want to support Red Cross Disaster Services can call 800-733-2767 or visit

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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