SACO — An 83-year-old woman is dead and two of her family members are homeless after a fire swept through a Hillview Avenue home Saturday evening in Saco. The cause is under investigation.

Firefighters responded to a neighbor’s call reporting a fire at 20 Hillview Ave. at 6 p.m., said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Firefighters found Claire Howard in the living room, McCausland said. They took her out of the house and tried to resuscitate her, but were unsuccessful, he said.

Howard was alone in the house at the time of the fire, McCausland said.

She lived in the single-family ranch-style home with her daughter and son-in-law. City records show Howard owned the home with Sandra Birdsall.

The fire started in a home office, McCausland said.

On Sunday, police tape blocked off the front yard of the property. Family members, who declined to comment, were gathered outside.

The Red Cross provided assistance to two people after the fire, said Red Cross of Maine spokeswoman Ann Kim.

Claire Howard’s son Bill Howard said in a Facebook post that the fire had not only taken his mother’s life, but left his sister, his brother-in-law and several pets homeless.

“We are all in shock and dealing with so many things right now and I apologize for not being able to respond to everyone, but know that I am so thankful for you all and your thoughts and prayers,” Howard wrote.

Claire Howard’s son Stan Howard also posted publicly on Facebook, thanking friends for their loving thoughts and prayers.

“My sister now needs to find a place to live so please if anyone has something or knows of a place we need it she does have pets. The house is a total loss,” Stan Howard wrote.

Assisting Saco firefighters Saturday night, either at the scene of the fire or covering the station, were departments from Biddeford, Goodwins Mills, Buxton, Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough.

Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or at:

[email protected]

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