Man perishes in early morning fire in Skowhegan

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SKOWHEGAN — A man who died in a fire on Milburn Street in Skowhegan Friday morning has been identified as 48-year-old Douglas Barrett, a state police spokesman said Friday afternoon.

Spokesman Steve McCausland said Barrett’s body was found in the kitchen of the duplex.

Barrett’s apartment was destroyed in the fire, and there was smoke and water damage to the second apartment in the building. No one else was injured in the fire which was reported about 1:30 a.m. Barrett lived in the apartment with a longtime girlfriend, who was staying elsewhere Thursday night, according to McCausland.

Fire Marshals asked State Police detectives to assist them in the investigation, but the fire is not considered suspicious. Barrett’s body was taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta for autopsy. Fire Marshals continue to investigate the cause of the fire.

Sgt. Joel Davis of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said at the scene Friday morning that investigators had yet to determine how the fire started, but that one side of the duplex had been totaled, while the other side had not been as badly burned.

State fire marshals were joined by members of the state police major crimes unit and the evidence response team, as well as local police and firefighters to investigate the fire and the death of the man. The state police criminal investigation division major crimes unit is responsible for major investigations including homicides, suspicious deaths and child abuse cases.

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The major crimes unit investigates all homicides in Maine, except in Portland and Bangor.

Fire crews from about 10 area communities responded early Friday morning to a report of a structure fire at 33 Milburn St. in Skowhegan. Crews from as far away as Waterville and Hartland were dispatched to the scene around 1:40 a.m.

Authorities removed what appeared to be a body, wrapped in a blue bag and then covered with a white sheet, from the duplex just after 10:30 a.m. Friday. A black hearse waited nearby.

The front of the duplex appeared charred black, the smell of smoke lingering in the air.

Heather Dozier, who lives just down the street at 48 Milburn, said she knew the man who died in the fire as someone who was a nice guy but kept to himself.

“I knew him fairly well — he was a good guy,” Dozier said. “I’d always see him driving up and down the street. He’s talked to me before about how he’s a landlord and all the work that is involved with it. To me he kind of kept to himself. He’d say hi. He seemed like a decent guy.

“It’s just kind of sad. They’re treating this as a murder. That’s what makes it crazy.”

A man who said he lived on the left side of the duplex said his home is no longer livable. He declined to identify himself as he filled out assistance paperwork with a worker from American Red Cross.

He said the man who died was his landlord.

This story will be updated.

State Fire Marshal Joel Page has confirmed that a fatality occurred in the burned out half of this duplex on Milburn Street in Skowhegan. The fire marshal’s office, state police, and local police and fire departments are investigating. (Doug Harlow/Morning Sentinel)

Investigators with the Office of the State Fire Marshal remove the body of a man who died in a fire Friday on Milburn Street in Skowhegan. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)

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