A North Anson man, who police said died after a fire swept through his house overnight Thursday on North Main Street, was a book lover who lived alone and could be quite eccentric, a neighbor said Thursday.

The body of the man, who was in his 60s, was recovered from the home by investigators from the Office of State Fire Marshal, according to a news release Thursday morning from Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

It was the first fire fatality in Maine in 2019. McCausland said there were 21 fire-related fatalities in 2018.

In a later email sent about 1:30 p.m., McCausland said the victim was a 63-year-old man who lived at the home.

Authorities did not release the man’s identity immediately, but neighbor Leonard Rafferty said the victim was Bill Bloom.

McCausland said the fire engulfed the house during the pre-dawn hours and that a team of investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Investigators are seeking relatives out of state to notify them of the man’s death.

No cause for the fire has been determined. Firefighters found Bloom’s body in the kitchen.

Rafferty, a friend of Bloom, said he was an intelligent man who attended church and surrounded himself with books.

Rafferty said he also looked eccentric in person.

“He was quite a character, yes, very interesting,” Rafferty said. “When you saw him — he has a big bushy beard — and he kind of looks like Gandolf the wizard, to tell you the truth. He would hike and he would have these big boots on and he’d walk with a big walking stick and this pointy hat and this flowing white beard.”

Rafferty, 47, said Bloom had no family and lived alone, just around the corner from Pinkham’s Elm Street Market in North Anson, where he often would get his meals.

Rafferty, an electronics specialist, also is a minister at High Praises Lighthouse Church in Madison. He said he met with Bloom at Bible studies last year. He said his family invited him for Christmas in 2017 and bought presents for him.

“He went to the Congregational Church around the corner. It was within walking distance,” Rafferty said. “He was very nice, very outgoing. He lived alone. He liked his reading. The last relative that he had, many years ago, was his mother, and she passed aways.

“He has no brothers, no sisters. We felt bad that he would be alone at Christmas.”

Rafferty said Bloom suffered from narcolepsy, often falling asleep without warning. He also suffered from short-term memory loss, so he always carried a pocket computer with him to remind him of things he had planned to do for the day. Rafferty said Bloom worked with computer systems and database systems.

He said Bloom owned the house where he died.

“He was not well off,” he said. “I would say he was impoverished. He actually was quite a hoarder, and I warned him of possible hazards of housekeeping, because he collected a lot of books. He had stacks and stacks of books. He was very smart, very well spoken. He was sharp.”

Rafferty said Bloom had no way to heat the house other than with a wood stove in the kitchen, where investigators found his body Thursday morning.

Firefighters from 10 area towns responded to a 3:09 a.m. report of the blaze.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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