CHELSEA — A house on Hillcrest Drive off Route 226 was destroyed by fire Monday morning, leaving a couple homeless.

The residents, Carla and Ed Bonenfant, were away from their home around 10:05 a.m., when two retired firefighters driving from Randolph to Chelsea saw a large column of smoke rising into the air.

Just about all of the ranch-style home at 80 Hillcrest Drive was destroyed in the blaze. The only objects that appeared to have survived were garbage cans and play equipment, including two plastic trucks and a tricycle, in the front yard of the home.

Those toys were used by Carla and Ed Bonenfant’s grandchildren, who often stayed there, said Travis McDonald, a nephew of the couple who arrived at the scene later Monday morning.

Ed and Carla Bonenfant were running errands when the fire started on Monday, according to McDonald. He was thankful his aunt and uncle were safe, but worried how they would fare now that their house was destroyed.

“They’re lucky they weren’t here,” McDonald said. “They don’t move quick.” But, he continued, “They’re not bad people. They’re careful, good people. … They definitely didn’t need this. Their grandkids are their everything. That house was full of kids’ stuff.”

Fire departments from Chelsea, Augusta, Pittston, Randolph and Togus responded to the blaze just after 10 a.m.

They had the fire knocked down by 11 a.m. and were at the scene for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon, spraying water on the burned rubble and attempting to extinguish remaining hotspots. The Maine Forest Service responded as well.

“When we came up, it was fully involved, from the basement on up,” said Ken Stackpole, one of the retired Augusta firefighters who was driving through the area and called 911. “It was so hot I couldn’t even stand out by the driveway.”

It was not clear what caused the fire, said Chief Shaun Ramage of the Chelsea Fire Department.

He called the Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal to investigate the blaze, but a representative of the office did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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