November 19, 2012

Overflow crowd mourns victims of Orrington fire

The Associated Press

BANGOR - An overflow crowd of family and friends gathered Sunday for the somber funeral of a man and his three children who died in a fire at their Orrington home.

Services were held Sunday afternoon at a Bangor funeral home for 30-year-old Benjamin Johnson III and his children, 4-year-old Ryan, 8-year-old Leslie and 9-year-old Ben. They died in a pre-dawn fire Nov. 10 that was started by empty cardboard boxes placed too close to a wood stove. The fire marshal said the blaze was "purely accidental."

Christine Johnson, Johnson's wife and the children's mother, survived the fire and was treated for smoke inhalation.

Some of the family's favorite songs were played during Sunday's ceremony, including "Jesus Loves the Little Children" for Ben and "Amazing Grace" for Leslie.

On Saturday, hundreds of people attended a memorial gathering at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, where Johnson worked, and a wake at the funeral home.

People in Orrington held a fundraiser spaghetti dinner Saturday night in support of the Johnson family.

The town of Orrington has about 3,900 residents and serves as a bedroom community to Bangor, six miles to the north. The family moved from Bangor and into the rental house about six months ago.

It was the deadliest fire in Maine in 20 years.


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