GRAND ISLE — An elderly woman died late New Year’s Day when fire swept through her house on Main Street.
The fire at the home of Christine Devost, 78, was discovered at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday by a passer-by, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. He said Devost lived alone.
Grand Isle Fire Chief Daniel Dionne said Friday that there was heavy smoke coming from the house and the first floor was on fire when firefighters arrived.
The 2 1/2-story house was equipped with a smoke detector, but it did not have a battery, McCausland said.
Fire officials theorize that Devost, who slept in a bedroom on the first floor, was awakened by the smell of smoke but was overcome by it as she tried to escape. Firefighters found her body in a first-floor hallway. Devost’s dog also was found dead in the house.
Investigators for the state Fire Marshal’s Office determined that the fire started in the kitchen. They returned to the scene later Friday to try to pinpoint where in the kitchen the fire began and what caused it. The results of that investigation were not available Friday evening.
McCausland said the first floor of the house was extensively damaged, especially the kitchen. Dionne added that the fire also had gone into the walls to the second floor.
“We were very fortunate,” said Dionne. “The fire was starved for oxygen. That’s what made extinguishment more easy.”
According to McCausland, Devost at one time ran a boarding home across the street from the house that burned.