WEST PARIS – A morning fire that began in the second story of a Sumner Road house destroyed the upper half of the building and devastated the family who built the home 16 years ago.

Fire Chief Norm St. Pierre said firefighters were called to the home of Colleen and Gregory Warner and their two teenagers at 6 Sumner Road around 9 a.m. after a passing driver noticed smoke coming out of the front room on the second floor.

West Paris, Norway, Woodstock, Sumner and Paris fire departments responded to the call. Firefighters first had to search the house because family members standing by the side of the road and watching the flames shoot through the roof said they weren’t sure if the children had left the house to go to school yet.

Both children were at school, and the house was unoccupied when the fire started.

The fire was knocked down in about an hour, and after the trucks left, officials roped off the house with police tape until the fire marshal completed his investigation. St. Pierre was worried the ceiling could collapse by the day’s end.

St. Pierre said he was not sure what started the fire. The fire marshal was expected to visit the home later Monday or Tuesday to determine the cause.

The Warners’ house was insured, St. Pierre said. The family asked him not to release to the public where they were staying or any contact information until they recovered from the shock of losing their home.

St. Pierre said the bottom floor of the house was salvaged, but that heavy smoke and water damage likely would make it difficult to be habitable again. Firefighters covered all the furniture on the bottom floor in plastic tarps to protect it from the dripping ceiling.

It was the first big fire West Paris has fought since it regrouped and conducted extensive training after the Maine Department of Labor found it in violation of several safety standards.

“It went really well, everybody did what they had to do,” St. Pierre said.