September 23, 2019

Colonial-era homestead badly damaged by fire

ALNA – A blaze that kept firefighters at the scene for 12 hours heavily damaged a rural Lincoln County home that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The fire started Wednesday in the furnace and quickly spread throughout the 10-room Asa Smith Homestead. The Georgian colonial, which dated back to 1773, had been on the market for $495,000.

Owner Judy Fossel and her son Jimmy, 18, made their way through billowing black smoke with their cat and escaped. No other injuries were reported.

Firefighters remained at the scene until 3 a.m. Thursday after working in bitter cold, with a wind chill of minus 15 degrees. Thick ice built up on trucks and hoses. Firefighters from Alna, Wiscasset, Whitefield and Coopers Mills helped to put out the blaze.

Later Thursday, belongings that were not destroyed were carried from the blackened remains of the local landmark, which is located along state Route 218.

Fossel’s former husband, Les Fossel, one of Maine’s most noted restorers of old buildings, bought the house about 20 years ago and returned it to its original appearance.

The interior woodwork included fluted pilasters, raised paneling, corner cupboards and crown moldings.

After the fire, ceilings bulged with water damage, floors were covered with ash, the roof was caved in and the kitchen was reduced to a black tableau of pots and pans among columns of ice extending from the floor to ceiling.

The age and early era construction of the house contributed to the fire’s speed as it spread from the basement of the attached tool shed and garage into the house itself, Alna Assistant Volunteer Fire Chief Peter Christine said.

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