SOUTH PORTLAND – Investigators who combed through the wreckage of a house that was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day say an electrical malfunction caused the blaze.

A wire in an exterior wall leading to a sump pump that ran often apparently sparked the fire, said Sgt. Joel Davis of the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Firefighters were called to the Bodge Street neighborhood after 8 p.m. for a report of smoke. When they got there, they found flames coming from the back of 15 Bodge St. The owner, Amy Maddox, had left to visit family members at 10:30 a.m., and nobody was at home.

There was such a large volume of contents in the small bungalow that firefighters had difficulty maneuvering, said Lt. Robb Couture.

The fire got into the attic and broke through the roof, so firefighters were called out of the building. They then fought the fire from outside, Couture said.

Firefighters rescued the woman’s mini-poodle, Penny, which was trapped under debris on the front porch, he said. The dog was taken to a veterinarian but was not badly hurt.

A neighbor, who had tried to rescue the dog before firefighters arrived by breaking a window, was treated at the scene for a cut on the hand or arm, Couture said.

He said residents should be careful to keep doorways and exits clear of items, as a precaution in case of fire.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com