Fire destroys Blackberry Lane house in Rumford

RUMFORD — A Blackberry Lane house was destroyed by fire Saturday afternoon but an outbuilding was saved, Rumford fire Deputy Chief Ben Byam said early Saturday evening.

No one was injured.

RUMfireb1aaP121513Byam said Mexico and Rumford firefighters and Med-Care Ambulance were called out at 2:05 p.m. to a fully-engulfed structure fire at 286 Blackberry Lane, which is off East Andover Road.

En route, Byam said he called for mutual-aid pumpers from Mexico, Peru and Dixfield fire departments, because the 2½-story house was a mile and a half up Blackberry Lane on a hill and there were no fire hydrants.

According to Rumford’s 2014 Real Estate Tax Commitment book, the house and 11.5 acres are owned by Anna Bolotovsky. The house was valued at $29,816, but Byam said Taggart Young, who lives in the house, has been doing extensive renovations there for more than a year.

“He had just finished building this nice chimney last week and put in hardwood flooring,” Byam said.

On Saturday, Young was installing cabinets when fire broke out.

Byam said a propane heater being used to thaw pipes in the bathroom caused the fire.

“When we arrived, there was heavy fire coming out of four or five windows,” he said.

An exterior attack was launched, with additional water focused on two large propane tanks and an outbuilding, which was in danger of burning.

“We had to worry about a 1,000-gallon propane tank and what’s called a 100-pounder propane tank that was venting,” Byam said. “The 100-pounder was hooked to the propane heater and it got knocked over. The 1,000-gallon propane tank was a huge concern and we quickly got water on that to cool it down.”

Near-zero and subzero temperatures caused problems with two firetrucks. Byam said an Andover firetruck froze up on arrival and didn’t pump any water, and Rumford’s Tanker No. 5 truck froze up.

“We’re hoping that when it’s thawed out, it’s OK,” Byam said.

An hour into the attack by 25 firefighters from Rumford, Mexico, Andover, Peru and Dixfield departments, the fire was out.

Byam said the house is a total loss and he didn’t know whether it was insured. He said he was contacting the Red Cross for help. Firefighters cleared the scene by 5 p.m.