Couple feeling lucky after Christmas house fire, despite loss

By Ethan Andrews | Jan 04, 2018
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Clinton, right, and George Dakin remove burnt debris from the home of their parents Denise and William Dakin Dec. 29, whose longtime residence at 64 Pout Town Road was gutted by fire Christmas Day.

Stockton Springs — Losing a home to fire on Christmas Day would rank high on most lists of cruel misfortunes. In the days after Denise and William Dakin watched their house at 64 Pout Town Road go up in smoke, the couple were taking the view that things could have been worse.

Denise Dakin said her husband William was out plowing in Searsport about 3 p.m. when a second call came in for a driveway that needed to be plowed in Stockton Springs. She took their other truck out, and when she returned a half-hour later, there was steam pouring from their home.

She knew right away that the house, a 1972 mobile home where they had lived for 23 years, was on fire but didn't know what to do. Dakin's daughter had pulled in the driveway at about the same time and was on the phone calling for help.

"I did the foolish thing," she said. "Ran to the door to get the animals out."

As she later learned, the fire had been traveling toward the rear of the house looking for oxygen through a heating vent. The open door drew it back the other direction and fed the first visible flames. Firefighters said the blaze had spread so quickly that, had she been home, she probably wouldn't have made it out.

"That's all I keep thinking about," she said. "You're very fortunate."

The couple's dog, a chocolate lab named Hoss, and their cat Roxie were found inside. Dakin believes they died from the extreme heat inside the house.

The house was not insured, and though the exterior showed few signs of the fire — one resident apparently drove by the house after hearing of the fire and left convinced that it had been a rumor — the interior was gutted to a degree that Dakin said she wasn't thinking about trying to salvage it.

As of Dec. 29, the couple were staying next door to the shell of their old home, in a house last occupied by Denise Dakin's mother, who died in 2012. The house had been used for storage at the time of the fire.

Members of the Dakins' extended family and community members had been dropping by to help clean out the old house. Others brought clothing and supplies for the family.

Dakin, a local postal carrier and longtime school board member, said she was surprised by all the help and has felt blessed to live in a community where people look after each other. But likewise it's been hard to be on the receiving end.

"When you're givers — that's what William and I are; we're givers — it's hard," she said.

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