Fire destroys old, empty house in Denmark Village


DENMARK – A vacant house in Denmark Village burned down in minutes Wednesday night, setting off small fires in the woods across the street and behind it.

Fire Chief Ken Richardson had not slept by noon Thursday after working at the fire scene for more than 13 hours.

“It was an old balloon-construction house,” he said, with no fire stops in the walls. “It could have been smoldering inside for quite a while and once they get the air, they just go like a roman candle.

“We had spot fires all through the woods,” he added. Woodlands are exceptionally dry right now.

Denmark, Hiram, Brownfield and Bridgton fire departments responded to the 10:30 p.m. call, and firefighters had the flames under control after 90 minutes, Richardson said.

No one was injured.

Other than the house and garage, no other structures were damaged.

The closest building was 500 feet away and across the street.

The house, which was about 100 years old, belongs to the heirs of Frank Smith.

It had sat empty for two years, Richardson said.

Smith’s widow, Paula, lives in Bridgton. She moved out of the Denmark house a couple of years ago after Smith died, Richardson said.

Fire officials contacted her Thursday, and she said the house was not insured.

A state fire marshal was called to investigate the cause of the fire, although there is so much damage it might be hard to tell what set it off, Richardson said.

Firefighters believe the fire started inside the house.

“There was a lot of stuff in the house,” Richardson said. “And all kinds of old computers, stuff the person had collected over the years.”