The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a former pet store early Sunday on Canaan Road in Pittsfield, which Fire Chief Bernard Williams calls “suspicious.”

Williams said Thursday that the fire marshal’s office inspected the scene Monday at 456 Canaan Road.

“They’re still working on it,” Williams said. “There was so much destruction, it was hard to tell. He’s still looking and he had some interviews to do.”

A call placed Thursday morning to the fire marshal’s office seeking comment was not returned immediately.

The fire was reported at 12:58 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters from seven towns responded and were able to save an unoccupied house that stands about 3 feet from the structure, according to Williams. They worked for several hours at the scene and no one was injured, he reported. The house was undamaged.

“The guys did a heck of a job keeping the fire out of the house,” Williams said Thursday.


The house and former store are about 3 miles from the Canaan town line.

The town owns the property, which it acquired for nonpayment of taxes, according to Williams. The buildings had been unoccupied for about three years, and there was no power to the site, Williams said.

The buildings were uninsured, he said Thursday.

“Apparently, the only thing the town keeps on it is liability insurance,” he said.

The former pet store is U-shaped, with a connector between the two wings, which are parallel to the road. Williams estimated the former store building is 1,500 to 1,800 square feet in size. Inside the building were various items, including tables and chairs, but the chief said he did not think there was anything of great value inside.

Williams said Sunday that he believed the fire started in the south wing of the building. When he arrived early Sunday, the wing was engulfed in flame and the connector was burning as well.

Firefighters from Pittsfield, Canaan, Detroit, Hartland, St. Albans, Newport and Skowhegan went to the scene, as did Pittsfield police and Sebasticook Valley Ambulance, according to Williams.

Jerry Halton, who lives at the corner of U.S. Route 2 and Powers Road, across from the fire scene, said on Sunday no one has lived in the house for at least a couple of years, so he was surprised that the building would catch fire.

He said he thought the man who last lived in the house was renting to own and then moved to Portland. The man had kept goats, cows and other animals there, according to Halton.

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