A father of two has been confirmed dead after a fire raged through his family's home earlier this week.
Sam Crawford, 40 from Orland, Maine, had escaped from the fire with his family beforehand, but re-entered the blaze to save their pet dog. He sadly never returned from the flames.
Local fire officials quickly responded to the fire, which had started in the garage but spread to the rest of the house on Monday this week. The single-story house reportedly burst into flames due to a propane space heater that had emitted sparks. By time the authorities arrived, the house was already in flames, while they had to bring tanker trucks to supply water to the rural area.
Witnesses say that after making sure his wife and two children, nine-year-old Lillian and five-year-old Ella, were clear, he told those gathered that he was going back inside to look for the dog. Hours later, both he and the dog were still unaccounted for.
However, as his wife, children, and two other adults present, 26-year-old Cassandra Morse and 19-year-old Alex Chaffee, were waiting, Crawford's body was discovered in the basement.
Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Public Safety Department, confirmed the death, as well as the survival of the three adults and two children. Six hours after he left, at around 11:30pm, Crawford's body was discovered.
In the wake of the tragedy, various locals reached out to the family to support them through this trying time, sharing supplies to help deal with the loss of their family and home.
"I’m so heartbroken for this family," one resident of the town wrote on Facebook. "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."
Following up the news, Casey Morse, believed to be the wife of the deceased, wrote her comment on the situation. In it she paid tribute to her husband's life and confirmed he was found holding the dog:
"He was an amazing man and an amazing father. He worked so hard to take care of his family. The girls and I are gunna miss him so much but yes he is a hero cause the dogs body was found cause he was holding him when they found his body! He wouldnt leave our baby behind."
Others have dubbed the husband and father a hero, as he died in an attempt to save the life of an animal. "I feel so sad for his family, but as an animal lover, he died a hero in my book," one commenter wrote. "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."
Hopefully the community comes together to help the family during this painful time.