A dad-of-two has been confirmed dead after going back into his family’s burning house to save their dog.
Sam Crawford, 40, from Orland, Maine, escaped from the blaze on the evening of Monday 4 February with his wife and two children before going back inside to look for their beloved pet.
Maine Public Safety Department Spokesman Steve McCausland confirmed Crawford’s death after his body was found in the basement of the building.
Crawford’s children, Lillian Crawford, 9 and Ella Crawford, 5, survived the fire along with two other adults named as 26-year-old Cassandra Morse and 19-year-old Alex Chaffee, according to McCausland.
Local fire officials responded to the fire in the family home, which started in the garage but quickly spread to the house on Winkum-Paugh Road around 5.30pm on Monday.
The single-story, ranch-style house was quick to catch the flames, after the initial sparks were caused by a propane space heater.
The home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived as shown by footage from WABI 5 and firefighters had to use tanker trucks to haul water to the rural site.
Witnesses say Crawford returned to the home’s proximity first to move a skidder, a vehicle used in logging, to his neighbour’s property. The dad then came back to safety before telling others he was going back inside to look for his dog.
After the heroic efforts, Crawford remained unaccounted for as his family awaited news for around six hours. Crawford was found dead at around 11.30pm. The dog has yet to be found.
Devastated locals have reached out the family to share support and supplies after the Crawford’s have lost so much.
One Orland resident took to Facebook to write:
I’m so heartbroken for this family. If anyone knows this family please let them know that the community closet in Ellsworth will open so they can come get clothing, hygiene items, food, or whatever we have, at no cost, when they feel ready.
Another dubbed the dad a hero for his last actions, saying:
I feel so sad for his family, but as an animal lover, he died a hero in my book. Of course it would be best if his whole family and dog all escaped unharmed.
But I know I’d go back in for my pet too as they are family as well.
The commenter concluded with wishes of ‘comfort and healing to all of the grieving friends and family at this time’.
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