OAKLAND — Dave Champagne had just returned to his Oakland neighborhood Saturday morning when he realized something was terribly wrong.

His neighbor’s house was radiating heat and he could see flames through the windows. He saw his neighbor’s truck parked in the driveway and feared someone might be inside.

“I hollered out and nobody was hollering back but the dog was inside,” Champagne recalled in an interview Sunday. “It was way hot when we pulled in and nobody had noticed it yet.”

Fearing what might happen if the flames reached the two large propane tanks beside the house, Champagne, 54, called the fire department and worked to establish a perimeter around the burning home. As curious and concerned neighbors noticed the commotion, Champagne tried to keep them from getting too close.

Approximately 35 firefighters from Oakland, Belgrade, Sidney, Smithfield and Rome responded to the fire which completely destroyed the home at 435 Brickett Point Estates. Firefighters had to knock down what was remaining of the home for safety reasons, said Oakland Fire Chief David Coughlin.

More than six hours after the initial call went out, firefighters were still on the scene, offgassing the house’s propane tanks.

“If the tank goes it could have leveled the whole neighborhood,” Champagne said.

Coughlin said fire marshals were investigating the cause of the blaze but said it did not appear to be suspicious. He confirmed the owners of the lake house lived in the home year-round and had lost everything in the fire.

“It’s basically a total loss as far the building,” Coughlin said.

Champagne said he was grateful that the safety valves on the two propane tanks had functioned properly, slowly venting propane gas into the air and preventing a devastating explosion. On Sunday, the two tanks remained, charred, but standing beside the skeleton of the home.

Firefighters successfully towed the parked truck out of the driveway, though by then parts of the back of the vehicle had melted, Champagne said.

Champagne has lived in the Brickett Point Estates neighborhood for 28 years and said he had known the couple that owns the burned lake house for nearly 20 years. Acknowledging the devastating loss of the couple’s home and dog, Champagne said he was just glad he had not lost his friends to the fire.

“Best thing about it, nobody was in there,” Champagne said.

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

[email protected]

Twitter: @KateRMcCormick

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