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Residents help fight fire, rescue neighbor’s dog in Maine

A small plastic gasoline tank inside the porch helped fuel the fire and firefighters used fire-retarding foam to extinguish the gasoline fire

By David Robinson
The Kennebec Journal

WATERVILLE, Maine — Two people ran into a burning home to rescue their neighbor’s dog Saturday afternoon while other residents used garden hoses to keep the fire from spreading throughout the two-story house.

Randy LaPointe heard people screaming for help and ran to the home, finding other neighbors banging on windows and doors and dousing flames that were engulfing an enclosed porch in the rear of the house.

People shouted that a dog was trapped inside and LaPointe used a front window to get into the house.

He then opened the front door to let another neighbor, Deborah Kilsby, inside and they started searching for the dog as the house started to fill with smoke.

They found the dog inside a cage in the living room and rushed it outside, according to LaPointe, 30, and Kilsby, 39, recalling the rescue after firefighters extinguished the fire.

“It was getting smoky and I heard another neighbor yelling, ‘The dog’s in the crate,’ so I just ran around looking for the dog and anybody else who might be in there,” LaPointe said.

Betsy Abbott, another neighbor who ran to help, took the rescued dog to her backyard, which is separated by a row of bushes from the fire.

Other neighbors comforted the dog, a yellow Labrador named Abby Doodle, while firefighters extinguished the last flareups from the fire at about 1:30 p.m. at the 26 May St. residence. Abbott, 37, brought out her German shepherd, Buddy, to calm down the rescued dog, which is one of Buddy’s playmates, she said.

“These guys are our good friends, and Buddy came out and just sniffed Abby to say, ‘Are you all right?’ ” Abbot said.

Heather and Chris Stone, the owners of the house, were not home when the fire started just before 1 p.m., according to Waterville Fire Lt. John Gromek.

Investigators believe the fire started in a plastic can outside the porch, which the owners used as an ashtray, and it quickly spread to the staircase and porch, Gromek said.

A small plastic gasoline tank inside the porch helped fuel the fire and firefighters used fire-retarding foam to extinguish the gasoline fire, he said.

The fire destroyed the porch, but it could have been worse without neighbors discovering the fire early and turning their garden hoses on it, he said.

“They helped keep it from spreading to the house,” Gromek said.

Neighbors also moved a Honda Civic, which was dangerously close to the fire, by using keys they found while searching for the dog, Kilsby said.

“We got the dog out and then moved the car,” she said. “It would have been burned by the fire if we didn’t move the car.”

Rick Burgess Jr. was the first neighbor to notice the fire when he heard popping and crackling noises while working his garage, a few houses down the street.

He saw flames shooting from the home and told his father to call 911, then the father and son ran down the street toward the home. They banged on windows to see if anyone was home, and when no one responded, the father grabbed a garden hose and started dousing the flames, 30-year-old Rick Burgess Jr. said.

The son helped the other neighbors get inside to rescue the dog, while other neighbors kept coming to try to help, according to Burgess Sr.

The homeowners did not return a phone message left on their cell phone Saturday.

About 20 neighbors came running out of their homes when the father and son ran down the street yelling fire, according to the father. He said it is a close neighborhood where everybody knows each other.

“Everybody just wanted to help. I love it when neighbors do that because that’s what neighbors are for,” the father said.

The Winslow Fire Department assisted at the scene and no injuries were reported.

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