Family saved from fire, pet cat found


On the morning of Dec. 31, fire claimed a historical barn; but firefighters from nine towns were able to save the original portion of the home attached to the barn. Two men leaving for work that morning succeeded in waking up the family of three by honking the horn. (Photo courtesy of Sebago Fire Department)

On the morning of Dec. 31, fire claimed a historical barn; but firefighters from nine towns were able to save the original portion of the home attached to the barn. Two men leaving for work that morning succeeded in waking up the family of three by honking the horn. (Photo courtesy of Alan Greene, Sebago Fire Department)

“A building can be replaced. My brother cannot.”

— Bruce Fadden, Bridgton resident

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

When Bruce Fadden’s phone rang early Thursday morning and his mother told him about the fire on his brother’s property, he didn’t wait around for more news.

Luckily, Fadden lived nearby — about one-tenth of a mile away, and he was able to immediately check on his sibling.

“The road (Route 117) was blocked. My wife and I walked down there. There were flames 30 feet high at the back of the barn,” he said.

“I saw my brother sitting in a vehicle with his wife, his daughter and the cats,” he said.

Bruce experienced a huge sense of relief knowing that his brother, Dave Fadden, was safe.

“A building can be replaced. My brother cannot,” he said during an interview on Tuesday afternoon.

Bruce Fadden expressed thankfulness to the passersby who saw the fire that had started in the barn attached to his brother’s home, which is located on 766 South High St.

The two men, who were headed to work via North Road, noticed the flames coming from the barn around 6 a.m., Thursday morning.

“They actually laid on the horn and woke them up. When David woke up, he could smell smoke,” Bruce Fadden said.

Dave, his wife Anne Marie, and the couple’s daughter, Victoria, 23, got out of the home safely with the assistance of those two men, Bruce said. Then, Dave went back inside the house to find the family cat and grab some of his belongings.

Dave Fadden was treated for smoke inhalation and, in the process of climbing out the window, he had broken a rib, Bruce said.

12492022_10205545759190588_6658862932602196231_oThe barn was a total loss. In fact, there was so much damage that the State Fire Marshal’s office could not determine what caused the fire. However, the frame of the original homestead was kept intact, allowing the family to rebuild in the future, according to Bruce.

Currently, the insurance company provided the family with a place to stay, he said. Basically, during the daytime, the family has been spending time at Bruce’s property, where the family’s cats are being kept.

“They’ve been dealing with (claims) adjusters,” Bruce said.

Bruce said he was grateful to the firefighters who saved one portion of the home. “They kept it off the main structure,” Bruce said.

“It was quite a scene with all the trucks and tankers. There were a lot of volunteers bringing the firemen coffee and donuts. There were about 50 firefighters,” he said.

“At Woods Pond, they punched a hole in the ice. That is around two-tenths of a mile that they had to bring the water, uphill. The lake is about 100 feet in elevation below the hill,” Bruce said.

According to Bridgton Fire Chief Glen Garland, the initial 9-1-1 calls came in around 6:04 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31.

“Dispatch got a combination of calls from the homeowners and passersby,” Garland said. The first people to arrive not only woke up the sleeping residents by honking their horns, but also assisted in the rescue, he said.

The bedrooms were on the ground floor, and the window sill was waist high, he said.

“The husband went back in looking for cats,” he said. “He was urged out through the window, the second time when things were getting more interesting,” Garland said.

“The fire was moving rapidly. The heat was starting to drive people away from the house. The firefighters and police were concerned about him being in there,” he said.

At that point, fire department personnel focused their energy on keeping the fire contained, and saving the main structure. Fire departments from nine towns helped to contain the fire within an hour, although the road Route 117 was closed for about three hours, Garland said.

The first responders were from the fire departments of Bridgton, Naples, Sebago, Denmark, Brownfield, Fryeburg, Waterford, Harrison and Lovell, Garland said.

Meanwhile, volunteers from the Sweden Fire Department covered the Bridgton stations. Plus, Casco and Raymond stepped in to cover the departments that had responded to the fire.

The State Fire Marshal’s office “was not able to determine the cause because of the extent of damage,” Chief Garland said.

“There was too much damage to come up with a definitive cause,” Garland said.

In addition to the loss of the barn, the ell which housed the kitchen and bathroom was also heavily damaged and is without electrical power, he said.

It is worth noting that Woods Pond supplied some of the water firefighters used to save the part of the building that was the original home. More than 150 years ago, the Fadden’s ancestors moved the home across the ice of Woods Pond, from the east side of the body of water to where it is now, according to Bruce.

The extended families are longtime Bridgton residents, with a history that dates back to the Civil War. Dave and Bruce’s great-great-grandfather, whose name was Brad Winn, sent money home while he was fighting in the Civil War. His wife used the money to buy the property. Once the Civil War ended, he started building on the land.


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