CHESTERVILLE — Fire of undetermined origin destroyed a house at 197 Sanborn Hill Road on Thursday night, leaving the owner homeless.

Gary Welch was not home when the fire was discovered, his cousin Matt Welch, a town selectman, said Friday.

Matt said while he was at a selectmen meeting he received a call from Gary’s son, Aaron, who lives nearby with his family.

“Aaron was frantic. He couldn’t find his dad, thought he might be in the home. I called and found Gary was at a graduation,” Matt said.

Chesterville Fire Department safety officer Dustyn Blodgett, who was among those who responded to the call, said a German shepherd had puppies under a truck  during the fire.

“We got it under control fairly quickly,” Fire Chief John Archer said Friday. “There were a lot of hot spots to deal with.”

Chesterville firefighters were assisted by departments from Farmington, Wilton, Temple, New Sharon and Fayette.

Sgt. Ken Grimes, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s office, said Friday that damage to the single-story home was so extensive that a cause could not be determined.

Matt Welch said he sold the property to Gary after fire leveled a 200-year-old farmhouse there on Oct. 14, 1992.

There was no insurance on the house and Gary is staying with relatives for now, Matt Welch said.

Deputy Town Clerk Rachel Hesseltine said there will be a benefit supper for Gary Welch  and his girlfriend, Tiffany Gerrish, from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the Town Hall at 409 Dutch Gap Road.

Matt’s daughter, SaraJane Welch, has started a GoFundMe page.

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Flames engulf the home of Gary Welch at 197 Sanborn Hill Road in Chesterville on Thursday night. Welch was not home at the time. A state fire investigator said the cause could not be determined because of the extensive damage. (Submitted photo)

Flames engulf the home of Gary Welch at 197 Sanborn Hill Road in Chesterville on Thursday night. Welch was not home at the time. A state fire investigator said the cause could not be determined because of the extensive damage. (Submitted photo)

A fire Thursday night at 197 Sanborn Hill Road in Chesterville destroyed the home. This German shepherd escaped and gave birth under a truck as firefighters battled the blaze. (Chesterville Fire Department photo)

A fire destroyed the home of Gary Welch, 197 Sanborn Hill Road in Chesterville, Thursday night. An American flag stood beside the remains Friday morning. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)


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