TRENTON — No one was home when a fire broke out in a Fern Gully Road home on Thursday, April 21. James and Sarah Pinkham and their four children had left for the weekend. But the house was destroyed.
Friends and neighbors have organized a benefit dinner and raffle for the family, planned for Saturday, April 29, at Trenton Elementary School from 5-7 p.m. Others have set up an online fundraiser.
Someone in the area noticed smoke around midnight on the night of the fire and called the fire department, Trenton Deputy Fire Chief Steve Heckman said. Another call a few minutes later reported a fully involved fire at the home. Firefighters from Trenton, Ellsworth, Hancock and Lamoine responded through an automatic mutual aid system.
“The entire trailer was a wall of flames” when they arrived, Heckman said. The house is in a wooded area, and the fire had started to spread out to the surrounding vegetation, but didn’t get into the trees. A shed/workshop building close to the structure also caught fire.
Officials warned of high fire danger this week due to dry and windy conditions. Fortunately, Heckman said, “wind was not an issue” in fighting the Pinkham fire.
The family cat was hiding in the woods and appeared when the Pinkhams returned home to speak with firefighters and the state fire marshal, Heckman said. A pet ferret also was “observed during the operations,” he said. “One of the firefighters scooped it up.” The animal was taken to the Ellsworth Police Department and then to the SPCA. A second ferret has not been found.
“We thank all our mutual aid departments,” Heckman said. Firefighters from Bar Harbor responded to cover the fire station in Trenton, and other departments provided station coverage in Ellsworth, Hancock and Lamoine. “It’s a nice domino effect; it works really well,” he said.
Damage was too extensive to determine the cause of the fire, Sgt. Scott Richardson of the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office’s said Tuesday.
Principal Mike Zboray said he was impressed with the community response. It shows that the school is “the heart of the community” and “brings people together in times of celebration and times of need,” he said.
“Within hours of learning about the fire, a plan was in place to raise funds on GofundMe.com and a fundraising dinner was in the works. The gym at school became a staging area for clothes and other essentials.”
The family is working on finding an apartment or house to rent, according to post Tuesday on the GoFundMe page. They expressed their gratitude for the support.