Family of three safe; house, garage, boat gone


JAY – Becky Sawyer sat at a picnic table at a neighbor’s house with tears rolling down her face as she talked about how she escaped her burning home around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A wind-whipped fire that firemen believe started in a woodstove of an unattached garage, caught the siding on the house, and in less than two hours, had destroyed both buildings and a boat in the yard. The house was on Davenport Hill Road, off Route 140.

Sawyer, 38, was upstairs in the gambrel-style home while her husband, Dennis, 48, and daughter, Raeanna, 7, were outside playing badminton in the yard.

Their daughter spotted the fire first in the garage located near the home, Sawyer said. She heard her husband yelling to her to call 911, Becky Sawyer said, and then she heard what sounded like gunshots going off in the garage.

She believed it was some of the items in the garage that were exploding, she said. Her husband had previously worked on vehicles, and tools and other items were in there, she said.

The family was able to save their baby kittens and the dog, and though they couldn’t find the mother cat in the house, they saw her outside.

“We were able to make a quick attack in the house,” said Jay Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Jim Shink, which is what helped firefighters save a lot of items, including the clothing and the furniture.

Firefighters had to truck in water from two supply areas, one on Route 140, the other on Morse Hill Road. A portable dump tank was set up at the scene.

It took about 50 firefighters about 90 minutes to get the blaze under control, according to Shink.

“We had so many years of things in that house,” Sawyer said. “We built that house. I don’t know if I want to go through that again and build another one.”

The family had no insurance, Sawyer said.

More tears streamed down her face and she wiped them away. Her daughter, a first-grader at Jay Elementary School, sat close by.

Her daughter had saved Bratz dolls and those, too, are gone, she said. As mother and daughter sought solace at neighbor Georgia’ Luce’s house, had Dennis Sawyer watched firefighters work the fire.

“I didn’t even get a chance to get my pocketbook,” Sawyer said. “I had so much medicine I need to take.”

Firefighters from Jay, Livermore, East Dixfield, Livermore Falls, Wilton and Farmington responded to the Tuesday afternoon fire. Medics from NorthStar Emergency Medical Services stood by and Jay police directed traffic away from the hill.

The family, currently staying at a local motel, is being assisted by the American Red Cross.