Two local homes destroyed by fire

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ENGULFED — This photo of the Knights Hill fire was submitted by Tom Kearns.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Two Bridgton families lost their homes to fires spaced five days apart, in freezing temperatures that challenged the limits of firefighters.

The first fire, on Jan. 24, destroyed a home in the Knights Hill neighborhood, while the second, on Jan. 28, leveled the home of Steve and Cathy Lyons on Pond Road. No injuries were reported, and the causes of either fire have not yet been determined.

Deputy Fire Chief Todd Perrault said the Knights Hill fire began around 11 p.m. in a bedroom above the garage. Perrault did not know the identity of the homeowners, who had arrived for the weekend from out of town. The occupants were able to get out of the two-story home safely, but the fire was well-involved by the time firefighters arrived, Perrault said.

Firefighters set up a tanker shuttle, but "water supply was an issue," he said, and hoses froze to the ground as around 20 Bridgton firefighters, aided by trucks from Lovell, Fryeburg and Naples, took about an hour knocking down the blaze. The departments were on scene until early the next morning cleaning up, and the state's Fire Marshal's Office was called in to determine the cause.

The second fire call came in around 4:40 p.m., Jan. 28, for the Lyons' Pond Road home. The Lyons got themselves and their pet out of the house, but when firefighters arrived within minutes, the fire was well on its way to gutting the two-story home, which had an attached addition and garage. Perrault said the fire started somewhere in the garage area.

Assisting Bridgton with the Pond Road fire were firefighters from Naples, Harrison and Waterford. "We were there pretty much all day," Perrault said. "With the freezing temperatures and hot spots, we remained on the scene until 1 p.m." Hose lines were frozen to the road. "It made everything very stretched out," he said.

Perrault said that as far as he knew, both homes were insured. He said the Lyons are staying with family members, and that a fund has been set up at Norway Savings Bank to help them get back on their feet. Cathy Lyons is being treated for cancer.

"They're just not catching a break — and they need to catch a break," he said (see sidebar, this page).

Perrault said the Bridgton Fire Department, like many other are departments, is lacking in volunteers, and would welcome help from residents willing to pitch in with routine tasks, like shoveling snow from around hydrants after snowstorms. He asked anyone willing to help to call the Municipal Complex at 647-8786.

Help sought for Lyons family in wake of fire 

Imagine you are recovering from cancer. For several years you dealt with the diagnosis, the treatment, and time spent away from your spouse and young children. Finally, you go into remission, only for the cancer to return. You go through everything all over again, but this time it’s more intense and takes much longer for you to finally feel better.

Despite some remaining health issues and large and looming medical bills from your cancer treatment, things are starting to feel normal again. Life is good and you can enjoy it as you always try to be positive because you made it through.

But now imagine one of those bitter cold January mornings we’ve had this past month when your husband wakes you and your two sons, yelling that there is a fire. You need to get out now before your house burns down around you.

You escape with nothing but the pajamas you were wearing. The fire destroys your house. There is nothing left. This beautiful home that your husband built for your family, a place you had always felt safe and had always missed while in the hospital being treated for cancer, is gone, along with all your possessions — clothes, pictures, furniture, family heirlooms. It is all gone.

We can be thankful we can’t imagine this, because we are not the ones who have gone through this (and we hope the same can be said for you). But our friends, Cathy and Steve Lyons and their two sons, Nik and Stephen can, because what might be our worst nightmare is now their reality. On January 27, they lost their home in a devastating fire.

After being able to put Cathy’s illness behind them and finally move forward in their lives, this fire has put their lives into an excruciating standstill once more.

We would like to help Cathy, Steve, and their sons get back at least a small piece of normalcy once again. We are asking for donations to be made to the Lyon’s Family Benefit at your area Norway Savings Bank.

No donation is too small or too big. Thank you.

(Submitted by Ann Petroska, Harrison, and Mary Chouinard. South Paris)

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