SKOWHEGAN — A 24-year-old woman is in critical condition at a Portland hospital and her 4-year-old son is in a Boston hospital after fire tore through their mobile home Friday night at 279 North Ave. and a police officer who was first at the scene rushed in to rescue them.

Andrea Curtis and her son, Tyler Curtis-Benson, are being treated at Maine Medical Center and Shriners Hospital for Children, respectively, for extensive burns and smoke inhalation, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

A Maine Medical Center spokeswoman said Saturday afternoon that Curtis was in critical condition in the special care unit. A Shriners Hospital spokesperson would not release information about the boy.

Meanwhile, Skowhegan police Officer Tim Williams is being hailed as a hero for going into the burning trailer, which was destroyed, and pulling the pair out of the living room. The family dog also survived.

“The only reason these people have a fighting chance right now is due to the actions of Officer Tim Williams,” Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard said Saturday morning at the scene. “He was the first representative on scene and he saw them from the doorway. He entered and he pulled them out of the structure. He’s doing OK. He was treated for smoke inhalation at Redington-Fairview General Hospital and was released around 3 a.m.”

Aside from Howard, police Chief Don Bolduc, Sgt. Joel Davis and senior fire investigator Stu Jacobs from the state fire marshal’s office, and officials from the state Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, enforcement and licensing division, were working at the scene around 9 a.m. Saturday.


Davis said the fire’s cause had not been determined yet. Howard, who was at the scene most of the night, said his department called in state enforcement and licensing officials to help.

“They specialize in heating equipment, so we’ve asked for their expertise,” he said.

The fire broke out just before 8:30 p.m., leading to a dramatic rescue of Curtis and her son that neighbors recounted with emotion Saturday morning.

Linda Heald, 64, who lives in a trailer next door to Curtis, said she heard a boom outside Friday night and ran out to see what had happened.

“When I first went out, I heard her holler, ‘Help,'” Heald said of Curtis. “Her voice was strong. I don’t understand why she didn’t try to get to the door.”

Heald said she thinks Curtis was near a bedroom window of the trailer when she yelled for help and possibly was trying to locate her son.


“As I was going down my ramp, the flames shot right out that window,” Heald said. “I felt bad I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t have my phone and I was hollering to my neighbor to call 911.”

Heald said Williams, the police officer, arrived quickly and rescued the pair. The boy’s body was limp as Williams took him out, and the woman’s clothes were smoking, Heald said. Other neighbors helped Williams place the mother and son on the ground near a trash receptacle, according to Heald.

“The police officer was trying to get them to breathe,” she said, adding that it seemed like a long time before an ambulance arrived.

Heald said it was a terrible sequence of events, one that shook her to her core.

“I didn’t sleep all night,” she said. “I’m so wound up and shaky. I wanted to break the door down, but I just had it in my head that if I did, the door was going to explode. You just want to do something.”

Lucille Young, who also lives nearby, said she heard Curtis scream for help and that’s when her husband, Jerry, sprang to action.


“My husband looked out the window and saw the fire and said, ‘Call 911,'” Young, 60, recalled, adding that he went out to help Williams.

Young said a man who lived in the burned house was working and not at home when the fire broke out. The family dog was taken to a veterinary hospital in Lewiston, according to Heald.

Larry Savage owns the property on which three trailers are located, including Curtis’ and Heald’s, and the tenants own the homes and lease the land from Savage, according to Heald.

Heald, who have lived in her home 16 years, said Curtis has lived there two or three years.

As she and Young recalled the events of Friday night, officials continued to work inside and outside Curtis’ mobile home, which is on North Avenue, just north of Dr. Mann Road.

Skowhegan Code Enforcement Officer Randy Gray was at the scene, where he was carrying signs that said, “Do Not Enter, Unsafe Structure,” which he said Howard had asked be posted on the property.


Howard said firefighters from Norridgewock, Madison, Fairfield and Canaan worked at the scene, where firefighters remained throughout the night.

He reminded people to make sure they have working smoke detectors in their homes. He emphasized it was too early to know whether there were smoke detectors in the mobile home and if so, whether they were working during the fire.

“Early notification is absolutely critical,” Howard said. “If people don’t have smoke detectors, please call us and we’ll help with that. There are resources out there.”

He said that the community is shaken by Friday night’s fire, which occurred three weeks before Christmas. Emergency workers, including Williams, who has children of his own, also are affected.

“This is devastating. This is tough for the community,” Howard said. “It’s tough on responders, just to see things and deal with things nobody should have to see.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.