Charity arises from Casco house fire

A FIRE ON JUNE 30 — totaled one wall and spread to the upper floor of this home off North Hill Pine Road. (De Busk Photo)

A FIRE ON JUNE 30 — totaled one wall and spread to the upper floor of this home off North Hill Pine Road. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Two days after a fire destroyed the kitchen, basement and upper floor bedrooms of his Casco home, Ryan Charette looked exhausted.

On Thursday afternoon, Charette shoveled the family’s damaged belongings into a wheelbarrow parked outside a sliding glass door. Water was pooled on the kitchen floor. Smoke was smudged across white walls leading up the stairway.

He said it was fortunate that his two children were not home Monday night when the fire started.

For the time being, he and his family are living in the home of his father-in-law, Jim Edwards, who owns adjacent property off North Pine Hill Road.

The fire broke out during the evening hours on Monday, June 30. While Charette and his wife Cassie were lying on the couch watching TV, the power went out. According to Cassie, the power outage lasted about a minute. Then, she smelled plastic burning. They both went outside to discover one wall of their home engulfed in flames.

“Ryan grabbed the bucket, and started throwing water on it, about the only thing he could do,” she said, adding that she dialed the 9-1-1 call.

According to Casco Fire Chief Jason Moen, the call to dispatch occurred at 8:50 p.m. Along with the Casco Fire Department, units from four other towns assisted, Moen said. Crews from Poland, Raymond, Otisfield and Naples fire departments responded to the scene, he said. A total of 45 firefighters put out the fire in about an hour, he said.

The family is relieved that no one was harmed.

“I am glad my kids weren’t home so they didn’t have to deal with the trauma of seeing the house burn,” said Cassie who has an eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.

“My dad built that house when I was growing up. It was where I grew up. It was hard to see it burn,” she said.

Plus, Cassie and her husband repainted the house last summer. Recently, the Charettes remodeled the upstairs, knocking out a wall, reframing and painting the space to create a birthday present for their daughter: A new bedroom separate from the room she once shared with her younger brother. All that is left is holes in the wall.

“She was just devastated. Every one of her birthday presents were up there,” Cassie said, adding many gifts were items to decorate the new room.

My son’s “room was destroyed. I was in the process of redoing it. His room took it the hardest — everything was just ashes,” Cassie said.

CASCO RESIDENT RYAN CHARETTE — holds some belongings — high school yearbooks that were saved from a house fire on June 30. (De Busk Photo)   HOW TO HELP: Please visit Ryan Charette Family Fund, www.giveforward.com. People can drop off donations at Moose Landing Marina’s office. Also, checks may be mailed to 36 N. Pine Hill Rd.; Casco, ME, 04015.

CASCO RESIDENT RYAN CHARETTE — holds some belongings — high school yearbooks that were saved from a house fire on June 30. (De Busk Photo)
HOW TO HELP:
Please visit Ryan Charette Family Fund, www.giveforward.com. People can drop off donations at Moose Landing Marina’s office. Also, checks may be mailed to 36 N. Pine Hill Rd.; Casco, ME, 04015.

What has emerged like a Phoenix from the proverbial ashes is a sense of being surrounded by a caring community. Charette’s place of employment has come through for him in a big way, he said.

The people at Moose Landing Marina have been a Godsend — a whole crew showed up with strong backs and an empty trailer to store any salvageable items.

Jason Allen, assistant service manager at the marina, said he heard about the fire “as it was happening.”

“It was Monday evening. I got a call that someone thought Ryan’s house was on fire. Immediately, we went that way just to make sure everyone was okay,” he said.

Allen credits Service Manager John Foss and so many other people who started networking to get help to the Charette family.

“We took the bull by the horns together,” he said.

“We have a trailer that we use for boat shows, and it was empty. We brought it over so Ryan could use it. We came over and had a Dumpster delivered over there. We helped with the stuff that couldn’t be saved. We brought a yard tractor to help clean the basement,” he said

“We tried to make it a little bit less overwhelming for him,” Allen said.

“Ryan is kind of the heartbeat at Moose Landing. We wanted to help as much as we could,” he said.

“Our marketing director, through our owner, set up a Facebook page. We networked with people locally. We have some teachers who work here during the summer. They reached out to other teachers,” Allen said.

Teachers at Songo Locks School, where Kalee and Ryan Jr. are students, heard the news and came through with donations of clothes, books and toys. The marina’s office was transformed into a donation location.

Also, both the former owner, Dan Craffey, and the current owner, Steve Arnold, donated money to the Charette family

“From the marina standpoint, we made sure stuff happened. We had the assets to be able to help him immediately,” Allen said.

Ryan “is such a good-hearted dude. They lost everything. It has been pretty overwhelming for us to see how much people have donated, and how much Ryan is loved around here,” he said.

“There are going to need help with the rebuilding costs. They’ll need what I call, the X’s and O’s of life: Everyday stuff like kitchenware, silverware,” he said.

People “can certainly drop off any donations. We will gladly take them. Ryan is everybody’s little brother. He’s much respected,” Allen said.

There is a give forward fund set up in Ryan’s name, and it is accessible on the Moose Landing Marina Facebook page.

Charette went back to work on Monday.

He said that the homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of paying off the bank mortgage. However, rebuilding a house will have to be accomplished with out-of-pocket funds.

At his home last week he explained that ideally he hoped to save a portion of the house, and build around that. The living room did not get fire damage and the ceiling beams at the bottom of the staircase appear solid. But, everyone has told him it will be hard to clean the existing part of home. It will be hard to get  the smoke smell out of the wood. People have advised him that the best thing to do is tear down the house and start over.

He said that Jim, his father-in-law, has been really broken up about the fire.

“He built the home. He designed it to look like a barn on the property. He cut the wood and put it in place,” Charette said.

Likewise, Cassie talked about the personal connection to the structure. Three generations of this Casco family have lived there, she said.

“My dad built that house when I was growing up. My father had a saw mill, and built the home when he wasn’t working,” she said.

Cassie said she is still too emotional to even look at what was saved or walk across the road to her home.

“We lost everything,” she said.

“There have been so many people giving us things: clothes for the kids, and toys and books for the kids, clothes for us,” she said.

“People have been offering beds and couches. We have storage for it until we build. We lost all our appliances. The electrical killed everything in the kitchen,” she said.

Cassie said she has not had time to really take an inventory of what she has received and what her family still needs.

On Saturday, Cassie’s sister took Kalee and Ryan Jr., to a library-sponsored event on the Casco Village Green. It was helpful to take their minds off the recent loss of their home, and just be children having fun.

 

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