BETHEL — A couple lost their two-story home at 81 Intervale Road in a fire of undetermined origin Wednesday morning, officials said. There were no injuries.
Bob Schuesler, who is in his 70s, and his wife, Jackie, had left their house for about 40 minutes and returned to find it engulfed in flames, Dan Young, an investigator with the state Fire Marshal's Office, said.
The couple's pets, including two cats and a rabbit, were unaccounted for. Their dog was at the vetenarian office and was not injured.
“Nobody was in the house, but their pets were in there,” said Kyle Anderson, the Schueslers' grandson. “That, and everything that they've ever owned.”
The house was assessed by the town at $102,900.
Young said the fire likely started on the right side of the living room and jumped to the second story, where it “tore through pretty fast.”
The cause had not been determined by Wednesday afternoon.
“We still have firefighters trying to extinguish the flames, so we won't be able to continue our investigation until tonight or tomorrow morning,” Young said. “We know that the homeowners left their home for about 40 minutes, and upon returning, found it on fire.”
Firefighters from Bethel, Woodstock, Greenwood, Gilead, Newry, Rumford and Andover fought the blaze, while Oxford County Sheriff's Office temporarily restricted access to Intervale Road to accommodate them.
Also at the scene was the Rev. Kevin Bellinger of the Bethel Alliance Church, who offered support to the couple.
He said the Schueslers have “poured so much into the community” and “they've always been there to help whenever something bad happened."
Bellinger shook his head. “It's really too bad," he said. "I'm hoping the community can come together and help them the way they've helped others,” he said.
Another friend said the Schueslers were the type of people to “take the shirt off of their back and give it to you if you needed it.”