RUMFORD — The most likely cause of Saturday’s house fire on 13 Andover Road was a bolt of lightning.
Dan Young, investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, spent most of Monday investigating the blaze with his accelerant-sniffing dog, Shasta, a 2-year-old black lab.
He said all other causes were ruled out, such as electrical problems or oil-based products igniting. The fire began above the second floor in the attic space at about the time a strong thunderstorm passed through the region, Young said.
Owner Deborah Gaudet and her four children were not home at the time. Two dogs chained outside the house were unhooked by a Rumford police officer, and one cat was seen jumping from a window. Neither that cat, nor a second one believed to have been in the house at the time, have been found. The dogs have been found and are being housed with neighbors.
The two-story wood-framed house is at least a century old, Rumford Deputy Fire Chief Ben Byam said. It is a total loss.
The family is staying at the Linnell Motel in Rumford, Byam said. The house was insured.
Thunderstorms and heavy rain plagued the area both Friday and Saturday nights. Although a small, unnamed brook near the house flooded just prior to the report of the fire, firefighters got through.
The blaze was reported at 6:10 p.m. About 25 firefighters from Rumford, Mexico, Andover, Dixfield and Peru and six pieces of firefighting apparatus responded. Firefighters remained on the scene for about six hours, Byam said.

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