WEST PARIS – A mother and her three children who lost everything in a fire several weeks ago are trying to return to the property where their home was destroyed.

This Sunday, volunteers in West Paris are holding a benefit supper for Robin Chandler, her daughters, Courtnie and Brittnie, and her son, Curtis IV. The Chandlers are still about $1,500 short of a $3,000 down payment they need for a mobile home.

Maine Home Center in Oxford is providing one of its model homes to the family.

“We’re hoping by the first of the year,” Chandler said of the expected move-in date. “They asked me to come up with a down payment, and we’re a little over halfway there. The sooner I have it, the sooner we get going.”

Close to noon on Oct. 20, a fire sparked by an overheated extension cord burned down the Chandlers’ cabin at 29 North Paris Road near Trap Corner. Killed were a black Lab puppy and four cats, Chandler said. No people were home at the time.

Two years ago, the children’s father, Curtis Chandler III, died in a car accident in Oxford. He was 32.

“They’re having a hard time,” Chandler said of her children, ages 14, 10 and 7. “They lost their home, their pets, their belongings.”

She said they are receiving counseling.

She added, “The dog was a puppy that had been given to my daughter by my grandmother. We hadn’t had him for very long.”

Norm St. Pierre, the West Paris fire chief, said the fire was seen by a passerby who described flames shooting out of the house window and a dog barking from inside the home. When he tried to break a window to rescue the dog, he was pushed backward by the force and heat of the flames flashing out at him, St. Pierre said.

Before the fire, Chandler was in the process of buying the house from her aunt, Linda Rowe of Hartford. After her husband died, Chandler had to sell her West Paris home and moved into that home.

The family is renting a two-bedroom apartment in West Paris for now.

The benefit supper will be held at Locke Mills Legion Hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. The suggested donation is $6 per plate for adults and $3 for children under 12.

There is also a fund for the family at the Oxford Federal Credit Union, St. Pierre said.

“The town is coming together,” said Charmaine Penley, president of the West Paris Fire Department Auxiliary. “People are providing the casseroles, pies, beans, salad. Everyone is pitching in.”

The Tri-Town Rescue Auxiliary is helping to organize the supper. There are many people in surrounding towns who are also helping.

“All the towns are coming together to help out the family,” Dorene Wilbur, president of Tri-Town Rescue Auxiliary said.

“A lot of people said they want to bring something,” she added. If people wish to bring extra gifts, Wilbur recommends small home appliances, bedding and towels.

The children also like stuffed animals, jewelry, dolls, cars and action figures, Penley said.

“It’s a family in need, and a family that needs to know they are loved by the neighbors around them,” Wilbur said.


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