A house fire that killed Steven and Isaac Rhodes in the Town of Washington on Jan. 23 apparently was accidental and erupted near a wood stove in the basement.

“The State Fire Marshal’s Office says the cause of last week’s fire that killed a father and son in the Town of Washington cannot be determined because of the severe damage to the house,” according to a press release from Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. “However, investigators say there is nothing to indicate the fire is anything but an accident.”

Neighbors reported the blaze.

Steven Rhodes, 53, fled his single-story home on Cattle Pound Road after attempting to douse the fire, but went back inside after learning his 25-year-old son, who had Down syndrome, had not made it out, according to investigators as well as his wife, Elizabeth Rhodes.

“He did not hesitate,” Elizabeth Rhodes told a reporter by phone from her hospital bed. “He went right in, but the smoke was too thick. I think they both probably became overcome by the smoke.”

The release says that “both men were overcome by the smoke and heat” in the blaze. The home was destroyed.

Elizabeth Rhodes, 56, Steven’s wife and Isaac’s mother, escaped the blaze and was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and burns. She was released a day later.

Steven Rhodes, born in England where his father was in the U.S. Air Force, worked as a mason and in his later years at a lumber supply store in Waldoboro.

Isaac Rhodes graduated from Medomak Valley High School and attended day programs offered by Mobius Incorporated, a Damariscotta-based organization aiding people with disabilities.

A celebration of life was held Saturday at the South Liberty Baptist Church, where Steven Rhodes was a trustee.

A “YouCaring” page set up by one of the Rhodes’ daughters was accepting donations for the double funeral. As of Monday afternoon, it had accumulated $23,333 toward the $30,000 goal.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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