MADISON — Improper disposal of ashes from a wood stove is believed to have caused a fire early Monday that badly damaged an uninsured house in Madison.

The blaze at 852 East Madison Road was reported at 4:50 a.m., according to Madison Fire Chief Don French, who said the fire caused extensive damage to the top floor of the two-story house.

“They put the ashes in a plastic bucket instead of beside the structure,” French said.

The chief said the house’s owner, whom French was not able to identify, was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and for debris in his eye. No other injuries were reported.

“There was heavy damage inside and upstairs,” French said. “It’s probably 50% gone inside. In a few days, they may be able to clean it up enough to live in one part of the house. The other part has a lot of damage. It’s going to be quite a while before they can live in it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have insurance.”

French said two adults and two teenagers live at the home.

Firefighters from Anson, Athens, Cornville, Skowhegan, Solon and Starks also responded to the blaze, as did the Rapid Intervention Team out of Waterville and at least one representative of the Office of State Marshal, according to French. Crews were at the scene until about 8 a.m.

The chief said the American Red Cross had been notified and was providing assistance to the family.

“For that time of morning and how everything worked out with mutual aid, it was a good save for the structure,” French said. “The mutual aid was real good. The attack by the guys was excellent, getting it out as fast as they can and getting it under control.”

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