March 27, 2013

Clinton teen badly hurt in fire; mother asks for prayers

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

CLINTON — A teenager was listed in critical condition Tuesday at a Portland hospital after being injured in a fire over the weekend that destroyed the second floor of his family's home.

click image to enlarge

Clayton Buzzell

Contributed photo

click image to enlarge

A home at 257 Hill Road in Clinton was damaged by fire on Sunday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Clayton Buzzell, 18, was on a respirator in the intensive care unit at Maine Medical Center and was suffering from a lung infection, according to his mother, Lucy Buzzell.

He was injured after the fire broke out Sunday and he went back into the Hill Road house to try to rescue two cats, she said Tuesday afternoon from the hospital.

"Clayton got all the dogs out of the house and went back for the cats, and that's how he got caught in the fire," she said.

A hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon that he was in critical condition.

Lucy Buzzell said he initially was taken by Delta Ambulance on Sunday to MaineGeneral Medical Center's Thayer Campus in Waterville and then transferred by ambulance to the Portland hospital. She accompanied him in the ambulance.

He is not able to communicate, she said.

"He wakes up and opens his eyes for a minute and looks at me, but he's so much in pain, they have to sedate him," she said. "He has an infection in the lower left lobe of his lung."

Sgt. Ken Grimes of the State Fire Marshal's Office said the fire's cause remains undetermined, because fire officials had not been able to speak with Clayton Buzzell.

The fire started in his second-floor bedroom, according to Grimes.

"There's nothing left of his bedroom," Grimes said.

A neighbor reported the fire at 257 Hill Road at 11:17 a.m. Sunday, according to Clinton fire Lt. Mark Bellaire.

About 35 firefighters from Clinton, Canaan, Fairfield and Burnham battled the blaze; and Pittsfield firefighters covered the Clinton station, he said.

The first floor of the house has water damage throughout, Bellaire said. He said the house is uninhabitable.

"The second floor is a total loss to the fire," he said.

Lucy Buzzell said the second floor had three bedrooms and a lot of attic space, and all the family's belongings in those rooms and attic are gone.

Clayton Buzzell, who is adopted, has "very special needs" and functions at the level of a 9- or 10-year-old, she said. He lost all his clothes, books, toys and Camp Mechuwana projects and memorabilia in the fire, she said. She said he attends the Winthrop camp every summer.

"He lost 140 books," she said. "He loves to read and be read to. He loves books. He loves puzzles."

The home was insured. The house, located about 1 1/2 miles from Clinton's downtown, is a salt box-type house with several exterior additions, according to Bellaire.

When firefighters arrived, they saw flames coming from the second floor of the rear of the house, he said. It was a tough fire to fight because of the additions and because it is an older house, he said.

He said firefighters were able to knock the fire down within about an hour but spent much of the afternoon digging out hot spots, opening walls and pulling down ceilings to get at the fire.

One of the family's two cats, a white feline named Chip, was rescued, according to Lucy Buzzell; a gray, short-haired cat named Stanley is missing, she said. The four dogs — two poodles, a beagle and black Labrador retriever — are OK, she said.

She and her husband, Michael, are staying at Fireside Inn in Waterville until they find a place to live, she said. Their other adopted son, Charlie, 16, is staying at a residential care facility, she said.

The family had lived in the house 13 years, she said.

It is a tough time for the family, as Lucy Buzzell is scheduled to have surgery Friday at Thayer, and cannot be with her son at the Portland hospital, she said.

She wondered aloud whether it was appropriate to ask people to pray for him.

"I'd love a prayer for Clayton," she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com

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