RUMFORD — A home more than 100 years old was destroyed by fire late Thursday night, investigators said early Friday afternoon.

No one was at Chuck Arsenault’s home at 289 Isthmus Road when the fire erupted at 10:30 p.m., and there were no injuries, Rumford fire Chief Bob Chase said Friday.

“The cause was undetermined,” he said.

He and Lt. Keith Bickford and firefighter Mike Arsenault worked to extinguish hot spots while assisting state fire investigator Dan Young.

“We called the state fire marshal for a consult (and the cause) still remains undetermined,” Chase said.

One of four cats that were inside the house is missing, Arsenault said Friday.


“We actually found one this morning that we brought to the vet,” Chase said of one of the three cats that were found. “It seemed injured but was still mobile, so we wrapped it in blankets and took it over.”

Chuck Arsenault, who was on his way to the veterinarian’s office to get the cat, said he lost everything. He said that two years ago, his mother gave him the house, which was built in the 1880s.

He also said he is still trying to make arrangements for a place to stay other than in Rangeley with his girlfriend, because he works in Rumford.

Chase said Rumford and Mexico fire departments and Med-Care Ambulance responded to the initial call. “The first firefighters on scene said it was heavy fire, so we quickly asked for tankers from Dixfield, Peru and Andover, as well as Mexico, who comes automatically (on structure fires),” he said.

“There was heavy fire volume, so we set up water shuttle operations to supply water, because it was tough for us to get water up this far,” he said.

Seven tankers were used to shuttle water from the last hydrant on Swain Road and from Swift River Park on Route 120.


“We did all right, but it was still a little bit of a haul for us to go down to water hydrants,” Chase said.

There was also a bit of a delay in getting water to the site.

“We had a little holdup waiting for CMP, because that power line was compromised, so we couldn’t really pass trucks under it, but they got here pretty quick,” he said, pointing to downed wires. “It held us up for a few tanker runs.”

It took 3½ hours to extinguish the fire.

“There was a wind, but there was just such a fire volume,” Chase said of the difficulty of extinguishing the blaze. “By the time we were able to respond, it would have been difficult for us to save anything. Old houses are very drafty with the construction, and this one was open and the upstairs didn’t have finishing on the walls, so all that stuff was exposed.”

Chase said firefighters didn’t have to search the house for occupants, because Chuck Arsenault is the father of Rumford firefighter Mike Arsenault. He said Mike Arsenault was on the phone trying to contact his dad after firefighters learned of the fire.


“As soon as we were able to make contact, we learned there was nobody inside, so we didn’t do a search,” Chase said. “And with the fire volume we had, a search would have been pretty difficult anyways.”

A shed was also destroyed, along with a lawn tractor and motorcycle and other items stored inside.

The house, which was insured, was valued at $27,220, according to town tax records.

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