AUGUSTA – A Riverside Drive couple’s home was destroyed by fire after a pickup truck crashed into their guest bedroom and dropped into the basement.

There, the truck burst into flames, which quickly spread to the rest of the home as the driver fled.

Ken Ward and his wife, Linda, were in bed around 6 a.m. Sunday when a huge crash shook their home of 21 years. They looked over to see a pickup truck sticking out the side of their guest bedroom at the rear corner of the residence.

“We saw the truck and just couldn’t believe it,” Ward said Sunday morning outside the charred, partially collapsed remains of his home, wearing clothes borrowed from neighbors and friends. “We lost everything. At least we got out safe.”

However, their 14-year-old Himalayan cat, Cocoa, didn’t make it out of the home.

“My wife is devastated,” Ward said. “I went back in and was calling, ‘Cocoa, Cocoa,’ but there was black smoke billowing everywhere, I couldn’t find the cat. Someone yelled to me that I had to get down, and get out of there, so that’s what I did.”

Immediately after the collision, Ward went out to check on the driver of the truck, but there was no one in it. He said a neighbor reported seeing someone running from the crash down Riverside Drive.

The crash and fire were reported at 6:10 a.m.

At 6:34 a.m., according to police records, a vehicle was reported stolen from Raven Road, a short distance away.

Augusta Police, in a news release, said that vehicle was later stopped by police in Pittsfield and the driver, Jacob Russell, 26, of Bass Harbor was arrested and charged with operating a stolen motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle while his license was suspended.

Augusta Lt. Kevin Lully said the investigation remains open and more charges may be pending. Police could not be reached for additional comment.

Russell was taken to the Kennebec County jail, where he remained Sunday evening, according to jail officials. His bail was set at $50,000.

Ward said he heard from authorities that the truck that struck his home also may have been stolen, and the suspect also may have stolen a set of clothes in Augusta.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the crash and fire.

“The fellow from the Fire Marshal’s Office said he’s going to go after him,” Ward said of the suspect. “I said, ‘Can I go first?’“

Tire tracks ending at the rear of the truck in the house travel across several lawns of homes to the north of the Wards’ home, narrowly missing a propane tank and a stand of large trees.

Ward said they had just recently put time and money into renovating their home.

He said the home is insured and the couple planned to stay at the Senator Inn for now. He said they received assistance from the Red Cross.

Ward said the flames were so hot that leather furniture inside the home appeared to have disintegrated.

He said after he checked to see if anyone was in the truck, he saw what he thought to be steam rising from the front of the vehicle. By the time he had come back from grabbing a fire extinguisher, “there was a full-blown fire” engulfing both the truck and that portion of their home.

He said Augusta firefighters were on the scene quickly and did a great job, but could not save the home from the fire, which he believes was fueled by gasoline from the truck.

Augusta Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Guimond said firefighters initially were called to Riverside Drive for a report of a vehicle hitting a house.

Upon arrival, authorities reported a large volume of fire in the main body of the residence, with a truck protruding out of the northwest corner.

Firefighters were on the scene until nearly 9:30 a.m.

Firefighters responded to the scene from Chelsea, Vassalboro and Togus.