Flames engulf a mobile home in the Blue Haven Mobile Home Park in Saco early Tuesday. Police believe the man who lived there, Stephen Laughton, 71, intentionally set fire to the structure. Neighbor Bob Leclair says he took this photo three minutes after dialing 911. Photo courtesy Bob Leclair

Flames engulf a mobile home in the Blue Haven Mobile Home Park in Saco early Tuesday. Police believe the man who lived there, Stephen Laughton, 71, intentionally set fire to the structure. Neighbor Bob Leclair says he took this photo three minutes after dialing 911. Photo courtesy Bob Leclair Photo courtesy Bob Leclair

SACO — A 71-year-old man died early Tuesday after he poured gasoline around the interior and exterior of his house and then set it on fire while he remained inside.

A spokesman for the state Fire Marshal’s Office said investigators believe Stephen Laughton, who lived alone, took his own life, but they don’t yet know why.

Neighbors of Laughton at the expansive Blue Haven mobile home park just off Route 1 in Saco awoke to a loud explosion about 1:30 a.m.

Bob and Kim Leclair said it shook the walls of their house. They got up and rushed to their bedroom window and saw the tops of the trees outside glowing. They then went to the other side of the house and saw their neighbor’s trailer completely engulfed in flames. Within minutes, it had burned to the ground, trapping the occupant inside.

“When it went up, it went up quick and fast,” Kim Leclair said from her home hours later.

Another neighbor, Christine Boothby, also awoke to the explosion. She and her 21-year-old daughter got up immediately and saw the flames across the street, reaching higher than the treetops.

“It sounded like a bomb,” she said. “They we heard other explosions, almost like gunshots.”

Firefighters responded to the scene, but the only thing they could do was stop the flames from spreading to nearby homes. Laughton’s body was found in the kitchen.

Sgt. Joel Davis with the Fire Marshal’s Office said investigators are still interviewing people, but he didn’t expect any more information to be released. Several propane tanks inside the mobile home may have accelerated the blaze and led to at least one explosion, Davis said.

Dennis Clark, who lives two houses down from Laughton, said he left for work about an hour before the explosion happened.

“I smelled gas when I went outside, but I didn’t think much of it,” Clark said.

His wife called him about an hour later in a panic. She was among a handful of neighbors who had to be evacuated until the fire was contained.

Tuesday morning, propane tanks could be seen around the debris of the charred mobile home. Two badly burned cars sat in the driveway next to the trailer, which was destroyed. The blackened frames of two walls and the porch chairs were the only identifiable pieces of the house remaining.

Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading, but the intense heat melted the siding on the Leclairs’ trailer. One of their two cars was damaged from the heat, and their driveway was strewn with shards of glass and other debris. Inside, the blinds on the windows facing the home that burned were twisted and melted from the heat.

Bob Leclair said he knew his neighbor, but not well. They had a contentious history: In 2013, the Leclairs filed a protection from abuse order against Laughton after he confronted them about their dogs. According to the order, Laughton believed the Leclairs were allowing the dogs to go to the bathroom in his yard. The order expired a year later.

Saco Police Chief Brad Paul said Laughton was known to police because he often complained about his neighbors. None of those complaints, however, rose to the level of violence or police action, the chief said.

Clark, who lives two doors down, said he remembered when Laughton moved in to the mobile home park about three or four years ago. He did not work, rarely had visitors and spent a lot of his time outside gardening and landscaping around his house.

Laughton had no criminal record in Maine, according to state records.

Some neighbors said they thought he recently may have been facing eviction. As with other residents of the park, he owned the mobile home, but rented the land it sat on. A representative from Blue Haven mobile park contacted Tuesday afternoon said the management company had no comment at this time. A clerk at the district court in Biddeford said there had been no eviction notice filed for Laughton.

Despite their history with Laughton, the Leclairs said his death was enormously sad.

“We’re in total shock,” Bob Leclair said. “I’m glad our home was saved. All this damage can be cleaned up and fixed.”

Boothby, the neighbor, said no matter the circumstances, she feels for the victim’s family.

“That’s somebody’s father, somebody’s son,” she said. “It’s just tragic.”

Laughton’s daughter, Autumn Laughton, lives in California. She did not want to comment when reached by phone Tuesday night.