The home at 117 Athens Road in Hartland on Thursday was damaged in a fire Wednesday. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

A couple is homeless after fire destroyed their older, wood-frame house on Athens Road in Hartland late Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Hartland Fire Chief Charles Gould said Thomas Braley’s home at 117 Athens Road was not insured and he lost everything in the fire, which is believed to have started near a wood furnace in the basement. He lived there with his wife, Phyllis.

No one was injured in the fire and there were no pets in the home, which did not have any smoke detectors, he said.

Gould, who has been with the fire department 29 years, nearly a year as chief, emphasized the importance of having smoke detectors in a home.

“I harp on that every time I get a call,” he said. “Some places will even give them away. A lot of people, when they do have them, they’ll take the battery out of them. A smoke detector can save lives. Time is of the essence in a situation like that. It gives you time to get out of a place. Smoke detectors are very, very important, and I can not stress that enough.”

Braley’s wife was the only person at home when the fire broke out, and she called her husband, who was up the road at the time, according to Gould.


“It’s unlivable now,” Gould said of the single-story house. “I’m going to call it a total loss. There was a lot of personal stuff in the house and outside. It made it hard to fight the fire.”

About 35 firefighters from Hartland, St. Albans and Canaan responded to the fire, which was reported at 4:01 p.m. Wednesday, according to Gould.

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office helped close Athens Road to traffic and Central Maine Power Co. shut off power to the house, according to Gould.

He said officials have not been able to determine exactly how the fire started, so the cause is being labeled “undetermined.”

“It’s hard to say,” Gould said of the fire’s cause. “There’s a lot of stuff in the cellar and that’s where the wood furnace is. I don’t know if something got against it.”

He said the Braleys were staying with a relative and the Red Cross was notified.

Firefighters left the fire scene between 6:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to Gould.

“It was going pretty good when we got there,” he said of the fire. “There were no smoke detectors. That’s something everybody should have. There’s a good chance if they had smoke detectors, the damage wouldn’t have been as bad as it was. I think every house should have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.”

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