A father and son were killed and a woman was injured in a fire that reduced their home in the town of Washington to rubble early Monday.

Steven Rhodes, 53, and his son Isaac Rhodes, 25, died in the fire.

Elizabeth Rhodes, Steven’s wife and Isaac’s mother, was treated at PenBay Medical Center in Rockport for smoke inhalation and burns and then sent to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

The blaze destroyed the family’s single-story house on Cattle Pound Road, and firefighters and investigators spent much of the day there Monday.

Steven’s parents, Lincoln and Moody Rhodes, live next door to the family and were among a number of relatives at the scene. They remembered Steven as strong, kind and caring. They said Isaac, who had Down syndrome, was a joyous person who loved singing and playing with animals.

“It’s almost unreal that something this bad could happen so fast,” said Lincoln, as he watched the firefighters work.

The relatives said that they thought Elizabeth, 56, would recover from her injuries.

Neighbors discovered the fire about 5:45 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they found heavy flames and smoke coming out of the home, according to a press release from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Knox County Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters pulled the younger man from the house, but resuscitation efforts failed. Steven Rhodes’ body was later recovered in the rubble of the home.

“It’s been a very difficult morning for the family and the firefighters,” Sgt. Ken Grimes of the fire marshal’s office told reporters.

The fire started in the basement of the home, according to Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, but investigators were not able to determine its exact cause by Monday afternoon because the building was so thoroughly destroyed. They did not think it was suspicious, McCausland added.

ShaRon Kelly, a next door neighbor, said his wife, Sandra, initially saw the fire Monday morning and thought their own chicken coop was on fire, then called 911 to report the blaze.

Kelly said that Isaac liked to come over, use his hot tub and play with his chickens. He called Steven “a go-to character.”

“(Steven) helped everybody,” Kelly said. “If you needed help collecting firewood, go see Steve.”

Based on a phone conversation he had with Elizabeth Monday morning, Lincoln said he thought Steven had escaped the home during the fire, then returned inside to try to rescue Isaac.

Steven was born in England while his father was serving in the Air Force, according to Lincoln. He grew up in Washington and attended Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro. He was employed by Storer Lumber in Waldoboro and used to work at Bath Iron Works. He was also active at South Liberty Baptist Church, speaking at services and coaching basketball there, Lincoln said.

Besides having a son with Elizabeth, they also had two older daughters, Rebekah Lord of Camden and Rachel Batlis of Washington.

“I’m just sad, overwhelmed,” Lord said on Monday. “I can’t believe this happened.”

She described her father as “a very loving, caring man… who always put family ahead of himself.” She said her brother was “always happy, always laughing and always singing” and “a great uncle” to her children.

Isaac also graduated from Medomak Valley High School and participated in day programs offered by Mobius Incorporated, a nonprofit organization in Damariscotta that helps people with disabilities.

Lord also said her mother was “doing alright” late Monday, considering her injuries and the tragic deaths of her husband and son.

A team of investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office remained on the scene later Monday morning as did Washington Fire Chief Phil Meunier.

The investigators are working to determine the cause of the blaze. The fire was reported just before 6 a.m. at 12 Cattle Pound Road.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

 

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