MATTAWAMKEAG – A fire in northern Penobscot County overnight marks the eighteenth person killed in a fire this year in Maine.
Days before Christmas, neighbors are grappling with a fatal fire on Main Street in Mattawamkeag. Fire officials believe the victim to be the homeowner, Robin Stratton, 59.
“I was shocked…the whole back half of the house there was through the roof and engulfed in flames,” said Kyle Rideout, a neighbor.
A fresh coat of snow covers what’s left of the Main Street home.
“We weren’t even on scene five minutes when we were notified there was a possibility there was a victim still within the residence…we were not able to make entry due to the bulk of the fire,” said Mattawamkeag Fire Chief Michael Coombs.
He said a neighbor called in the fire around 8 p.m. Saturday.
Rideout said people jumped in to help, and that people brought over cases of water for firefighters.
Crews were on scene until early Sunday morning, when fire marshals found the body in a bedroom.
Officials believe the victim is Stratton, though confirmation will come later from the state medical examiner’s office.
Neighbors and fire crews had only good things to say about her.
“I’ve known her since – we went to school together, very nice person, quiet,” said Coombs. “My condolences to her family.”
Fire marshals said in a press release the damage is so extensive, they will not be able to pinpoint a cause.
The fire chief is not sure if smoke detectors were working in the home and said the issue fighting this fire was getting enough people to it.
“All the departments in the area are hurting for personnel so I had to reach out a little further than I usually do,” he said.
Stratton lived with her teenage granddaughter, who was not home at the time.
An online fundraiser has already gathered thousands of dollars to help the family. A link to that can be found here.