January 23, 2013

Norridgewock family faces homelessness after second fire in three years

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

NORRIDGEWOCK -- A family of four is facing homelessness after a fire that destroyed their mobile home earlier this month, the second fire the family has endured in three years.

click image to enlarge

The charred remains of a mobile home where Robert and Kelley Robinson and their children escaped after fire quickly took over Tuesday on Smithfield Road in Norridgewock. Fire also damaged another home in town earlier Tuesday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The Robinsons -- Robert and Kelley and their two sons, Zachary, 15, and Justin, 12 -- are living in a 25-foot camper they are renting while searching for something permanent.

"We're just distraught trying to figure out where we can go," said Robert Robinson, 39. The family lives on about $730 per month that he collects for disability, he said, and his wife is a homemaker.

Robinson said the family initially received some support from the American Red Cross, which paid for a hotel for them for three days after the fire on Jan. 10. The Department of Health and Human Services also has replaced some of their pots and pans and other items, Robinson said. They have insurance, but not enough to cover the cost of buying a new home, he said.

"We've lost 90 percent of what we own," Robinson said. The effect on his family has been devastating, he said, especially considering that this is not the first total-loss fire they've endured.

The Robinsons lost an earlier mobile home to a fire in March 2010.

The second fire occured Jan. 10. Robinson said he was driving his sons home from school when he saw a firetruck from about a tenth of a mile away.

"The kids started panicking that it was our house. I didn't want them to see it, because we've already lost everything we had to a fire years ago; but it was our house," he said.

Norridgewock fire chief David Jones said the most recent fire's cause was undetermined, although there was nothing suspicious about it.

"One room was burnt from what we have determined was probably an electrical fire," he said. "There was a lot of smoke and water damage even before we got there."

March 11, 2010, was a similar day, although that time the fire broke out as the family was getting ready to go to school.

"My son came out of the bathroom and told me it smelled like s'mores. I thought he was joking, but when I followed him down the hall, the washer and dryer were totally engulfed," Robinson said.

He said that home, a mobile unit at 185 Smithfield Road, was leveled and they moved into the home they just lost, which was about two-thirds destroyed by the fire, making it uninhabitable, he said.

Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368
rohm@mainetoday.com

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