GARDINER — A Deane Street family, including a teenager who made it out of the house in only his underwear, escaped unharmed from a huge fire that sent flames reaching above surrounding trees and destroyed their barn and probably their home.

No firefighters were hurt while extinguishing the Saturday night blaze at 12 Deane St., and the Bustos family’s pet cat also survived.

Leanna Bustos said her husband, Tom, and 15-year-old son Alex where home at the time of the fire, watching videos together, when they heard a boom followed by a series of pops, coming from the small barn attached to the house the couple have lived in for about 18 years. Tom Bustos looked out and saw the front entryway of the barn in flames. He grabbed a garden hose to try to extinguish the flames, but the hose had little effect on the growing fire.

The man and his son, who had gotten out of the house in only his underwear, moved vehicles away from the flames. Their neighbors called the Fire Department.

Tom Bustos called his wife, who works in home health care and was with a client in Winthrop, and said their barn was on fire and the Fire Department was there.

She rushed home, still thinking her son, who had told her earlier that day he had planned to watch some videos, was inside the house.

“I thought my son was in the house, so I was screaming for him, screaming and screaming for them to get my son,” Leanna Bustos said Sunday morning as the couple paced around outside the burned structures, assessing the damage, unsure of what to do next.

She tried to get into the home to find her son but was told by police, before she was able to enter, that he was safe, up the street at a neighbor’s.

Other neighbors had given the son clothes to wear. The family went to a hotel after the fire was extinguished around 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Around 8 a.m. Sunday, they were outside the home, awaiting a visit from the American Red Cross.

Leanna Bustos said they might take their small camper to a local campground and stay there.

The home is insured.

“We do have insurance, thank God for that,” she said. “I was worried it might have lapsed. We called last night, and it hadn’t.”

The fire was so hot it melted kayaks stored several feet from the barn, and melted the grill in a pickup truck parked near the barn.

Tom Bustos said flames where shooting above the now-singed treetops that surround the home, appearing to reach up to 100 feet in the sky.

All that is left of the barn is the charred outer shell. The front part of the home appeared untouched by flames, but the rear portion by the barn, including the kitchen, sustained heavy fire damage. Tom Bustos said he’s doubtful the home will be livable, because of all the damage from fire, smoke and water.

“It’s black. Everything is black in there,” he said, peering into the home. “And there is water everywhere. It’s like a swimming pool inside.”

Tom Bustos said it was around 7:30 p.m. when they heard noise coming from the barn and looked out to see it was on fire.

He said the heat coming from the flames was unbelievable.

The couple hoped to be able to enter the home Sunday to see if they could retrieve old photographs and see what survived the fire, and to check on pet fish kept in tanks in the home’s basement. Tom said he thought the fish would still be alive, but he worried they wouldn’t last long without electricity.

Leanne Bustos, holding back tears, said Sunday morning they weren’t sure what to do next.

Tom Bustos, appearing anxious to do something, anything, to help make the situation better, checked to see if their water was still hooked up, and contemplated watering their garden.

Neither of them knew how the fire might have started.

Gardiner Fire Department Lt. Dustin Barry said the first firefighters on the scene, from Gardiner, followed by a mutual aid crew from Farmingdale, made a good attack when they arrived and helped prevent the fire from spreading into the rest of the house. He said the Office of State Fire Marshal plans to send an investigator to the scene Monday to try to determine the fire’s cause.

Firefighters from Augusta, Togus, Pittston, Randolph, Farmingdale and West Gardiner responded to assist Gardiner firefighters at the blaze, which sent up a plume of black smoke visible from throughout the area.

The home, according to city tax records, was built in 1890 and the home and half-acre property are valued at $90,300.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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