PERU — The fire that leveled a house at 99 Mt. Zircon Road on Thursday was deemed accidental by the Office of State Fire Marshal, according to Fire Chief Bill Hussey.

Fire leveled a house and caused a woods fire that encompassed 9 acres behind the home at 99 Mt. Zircon Road on Thursday afternoon in Peru.  Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson

“But there was so much that burned and it was very hard to tell (how the fire started),” Hussey said on Friday. The new owner of the home, David Lemelin from Loudon, New Hampshire, bought it recently as his retirement home, Hussey said.

A friend of the homeowner’s, who was staying at the house and working on a deck, returned from lunch Thursday to find it on fire. A drywall contractor was also working at the house before the fire occurred.

Fifty-eight firefighters from several departments worked throughout the afternoon until about 5 p.m. to extinguish the flames at the home and in the woods, which caught fire as the flames spread from the house.

Forest Ranger Hunter Morris said 9 acres of woods were involved in the fire that crept up a steep hill behind the house.

“We did have a Maine Forest Service helicopter and he performed reconnaissance on the fire, kind of to know a little bit about what was going on and to determine whether or not we needed any water drops or anything like that,” Morris said. “It was good to have some eyes in the sky to really see exactly what the fire was doing.”

About half of the forest fire was contained upon Morris’ arrival at the scene, but the last quarter of the burning area gave the firefighters some trouble because of a shift in the wind, he said. “But everyone did a really good job of adapting to a moving situation and making things work to keep the fire contained.”

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