RUMFORD – Fire Chief Gary Wentzell is not completely sure Monday night’s house fire on Washington Street that caused about $25,000 in fire, smoke and water damage was accidental.

He declined to elaborate.

Two agents from the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Rumford Fire Department investigator Lt. Keith Bickford were on the scene early Tuesday morning.

More than two dozen firefighters from Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield were called to the 8:50 p.m. fire at the home of Michael Maurais at 330 Washington St. No one was home when a man from nearby Penobscot Street called in to report flames coming from the rear of the story-and-a-half wood-frame structure.

Wentzell said firefighters were on the scene for nearly six hours. He said the fire started in the cellar, then worked its way up into the walls. Smoke could be seen coming out of an attic window late Monday night.

He said firefighters had to pull down ceilings and walls to find the fire.

He said Rumford and Mexico fire departments were initially asked to respond to the fire; however, additional firefighters who are certified to enter burning buildings were needed, so the Dixfield Fire Co. also responded. About a dozen of the firefighters who responded are certified.

A pet dog was with Maurais when the fire broke out. He also owns four cats that Wentzell believes must have run from the house when the fire broke out. None were found inside the house.

He said the half-century or so old house is insured.

Med-Care Ambulance Service also responded to the call and served as one of two command centers during the incident.

Wentzell said he plans to contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal agents Wednesday afternoon to learn if they have determined the fire’s cause.


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