TURNER — Two men were burned Monday afternoon while attempting to put out a fire that eventually destroyed a garage and mobile home on Route 4.

The property, just north of the intersection of Harlow Hill Road, is owned by Linda Childs.

Childs’ adult son, Guy Childs Jr., and a family friend, Mike Cottle, were working on a car in the garage at 1876 Auburn Road when something sparked the fire.

“It just went ‘boom.’ The floor and everything was on fire,” Cottle said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t think I was going to make it out.”

The flames caught Cottle’s boot and spread up his leg to his T-shirt and arms. Childs said he threw Cottle to the ground and rolled him to extinguish the flames.

Then Childs realized he was on fire, too.

“I just went right up in flames at the same time,” Childs said. “I was more worried about him than me.”

He dropped to the ground and rolled to put out the flames, he said.

The garage fire quickly spread to the mobile home. Nobody else was home, but the family’s two small dogs and cat were inside.

Childs said he ran into the house, retrieved the dogs and got them safely outside, locking them in Cottle’s car, parked nearby. He returned but couldn’t find the cat before the smoke got too thick and fire engulfed the home.

The fire was reported just after 2:30 p.m. Six fire departments responded from Auburn, Buckfield, Leeds, Livermore, Minot and Turner. 

Thick black smoke and the smell of burning tires filled the area as neighbors and family members watched firefighters battle the fire. Firefighters had it under control by 4 p.m.

It is unclear what sparked the fire. Cottle said they’d been draining a gas tank earlier in the day, but he didn’t know if that had contributed to it. Childs said he was using a Sawzall when the fire started.

“I don’t know what it was (that started the fire). As far as I know, it was an electrical spark,” he said. 

Childs suffered second degree burns to his hands. Cottle suffered burns to his foot and arms. 

They stood with family and watched, stunned, as the fire destroyed the home. Cottle leaned a burned arm on the rain splattered roof of his car to ease the pain. 

Linda Childs said she had no insurance. According to town records, the home’s assessed value was $25,700.

She is in the process of adopting a family member’s two young children. They lived in the home with her.

“This is going to be another tragedy for them. Our whole house is gone,” she said. “I just can’t believe it’s all gone.”

The Childs are well-known in the racing circuit and are frequent competitors at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford.

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Managing editor/days Judith Meyer contributed to this report.


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