See more photos of the fire at www.SunJournal.com/news/1566281

LEEDS — A woman was taken to a Lewiston hospital for smoke inhalation after flames devoured the massive farmhouse she lived in at 810 River Road.

Sharon Oliver was taken to Central Maine Medical Center, according to her daughter, Becky Hinkley.

Hinkley said everyone got out safely, but Oliver needed oxygen from emergency workers at the scene.

“Her birthday is Tuesday,” Hinkley said. “Happy birthday, I guess.”

The 220-year-old farmhouse was fully ablaze by the time firefighters arrived on the scene just after 2 p.m. Flames were shooting high into the air, and a thick haze of smoke could be seen from miles around.

“The fire guys said when they got here, there was no way they were going to save it,” said Herb Hafford, who lives down the road. “It was a huge farmhouse. There was just so much wood. Just the shed alone was bigger than most houses.”

Less than two hours after firefighters arrived, the house had been reduced to a pile of blackened rubble with a lone chimney rising from it. One wall remained, but firefighters were expected to knock that down.

Only an unattached garage remained.

Investigators from the Maine Fire Marshal’s Office were called to help pin down the origin of the blaze, but there was no immediate word on the cause.

Oliver had been renting the house from Rick Macie, who also lived at the residence. Macie was mostly concerned about Oliver and her family.

“They lost everything,” Macie said, standing across the street from his ruined house. “Everything. I lost all my stuff, too. I look at it and it turns my stomach. There’s just nothing left.”

As fire crews from several towns continued to battle the blaze, Macie kept thinking of more of his belongings that were lost to the flames. His computer equipment, for one. His cameras, too, with which he makes a living.

But it was the sentimental stuff that left him wincing.

“My mother died last year,” he said. “All her photos were in there.”

He consoled Hinkley for a moment and then another grim thought arose.

“All my antiques,” Macie said. “Gone.”

That included a butcher-block cutting board from his childhood in Portland. And a headboard he’d made himself, among other collectibles.

“It’s just stuff,” Macie said. “But it meant a lot to me. It was meaningful stuff. Fires like this, it robs you of everything.”

Macie had insurance, he said. However, Hinkley said, her mother hadn’t gotten renters insurance when she moved in. By late afternoon, she was trying to come up with ways to help her mom recover from the devastating blaze.

The American Red Cross sent representatives to the scene to help Oliver and her family. The family had been living in the house for only a few months. Neighbors who watched the firefighters douse the flames said the home, built in 1792, had been a welcomed sight along the bucolic stretch of River Road.

“I can’t believe it was leveled like that,” Hafford said. “I drive by here a hundred times a day, practically. The scenery isn’t going to be the same. That house will be missed.”



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