A Randolph man lost his 39 Fairview Ave. home to an early morning fire Saturday that an investigator said was propelled by a propane tank acting like a blowtorch.

Jeffrey Sansouci owes his life to his working smoke detector, said Randolph Fire Chief Ron Cunningham.

“Without that smoke detector, he wouldn’t probably have been able to get out,” Cunningham said by phone about 9:30 a.m. Saturday as he walked Sansouci through the home.

Sansouci suffered a small burn to his hand, according to Cunningham.

The structure fire was reported at 5:15 a.m. and responders came from Randolph, Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, and Pittston. “The first unit arriving on scene saw heavy fire on a deck and extending into the main house,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said after Sansouci was awakened by the alarm, he got his dog out and tried putting out the fire with a garden hose.

Maine fire marshal investigator Ken MacMaster determined the fire was caused by exhaust sparks from the pellet stove that set siding on fire, Cunningham said.

“The exhaust of the pellet stove caught the cedar shingles on fire on the side of the house on the deck side,” Cunningham said. “The fire from that was hot enough to set off a 20-pound propane tank. It blew off the relief valve on the propane tank and it acted like a blow torch, which tremendously increased the fire until we got here.”

He said it took 30-45 minutes to get the fire knocked down in the 1 1/2-story brown, cedar-shingled building.

Cunningham said the building was a total loss and that a snowmobile atop a trailer parked close to the deck sustained heavy damage before the homeowner could push it out of the way.

Cunningham said Sansouci would be contacting his insurance company and staying with his father in Randolph.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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