As Ryan and Tiffany (Tiff) Theriault of Raymond drove up to their Harmon Road house with their two-and-a-half year old son, Caden, on Monday, May 9, they grabbed for the cell phone.
“We came home a little before 10 p.m. and we saw flames coming out of our windows,” said Tiff. “I was on the phone to E-911 as we pulled up and Caden was in the back of the car saying, ‘Fire, mommy, fire.'”
Then, watching helplessly, they waited in the glow of the flames while firefighters battled the blaze that quickly engulfed their home.
According to Raymond Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Tupper, 50 firefighters responded – 18 from Raymond; the rest from Windham, Casco, and Gray – while Naples covered the station. It took them about an hour to get the fire under control.
“It was well advanced when we arrived,” Tupper said. “A power line was down across the vehicle which limited access to the building.”
Tupper went on to say that initially it was believed the fire started from a faulty monitor heater, but that was quickly ruled out. Although still under investigation, the cause is not suspicious.
The Theriaults, who are expecting identical twin girls in July, lost practically everything in the fire. They managed to pull only a couple of things, like their lawnmower, out of the garage. And, their fireproof box, a $20 investment, withstood the heat and flames to protect important papers and Tiff’s jewelry. Said Tiff: “We had quite a few friends go out and get them [fireproof boxes] this past week.”
The Theriaults also had quite a few friends respond to their practical needs as well.
“We were just blown away by friends, family, and even strangers,” said Tiff. “Caden has [been given] all these toys and tons of clothes. People have been calling, ‘Would you like this, do you need that?”
But, the Theriaults possessions are not their primary concern in this disaster. “Whenever we talk about the fire,” said Ryan, “we try not to talk in front of Caden. He still calls it the ‘fire home.'”
Tiff agreed: “I was worried about him seeing it. I called his pediatrician to find out what I should do but what I’m told is he won’t remember it. Now, whenever he mentions it we say, ‘Yes, but we’re going to have a new home. You’re going to help daddy build it.’ He’s just like his dad, with hammer and nails.”
And the couple does plan to rebuild. Though they’re waiting for an official determination, they believe they will be able to use the foundation from their burned-out home.
Currently, the Theriault’s are staying at a relative’s cottage. But they’re hoping to put a mobile home on their Harmon Road lot so that Ryan, a carpenter, will be close by during the months of nights and weekends he will need to rebuild their home.
“To me, that’s worth it to be on our land,” said Tiff, “so Caden can have something familiar to him and Ryan can come in for dinner so he doesn’t have to be away from us. Otherwise he’d be gone all the time and not be able to see the kids at all.”
Though the image of their charred home may be forever burned into their memory, for the Theriault’s, it will serve as a reminder, not of what they’ve lost, but of what they have.