A Windham family of three lost their home and several pets to a fire that apparently started in an attached garage before spreading to the two-story residence.

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby said Tom Riebe, who lives in the home at 792 Gray Road – also known as Route 202 – was in the yard when the fire started around 1:43 p.m. Tuesday. Riebe’s wife, Wendy Riebe, and their 12-year-old son, Colt, were not home at the time.

By the time the first crews arrived, the garage was engulfed in flames and the fire was beginning to spread to the home.

“We lost our pets. That’s the hard part. You can always replace clothing and furniture, but not a pet. It’s so sad,” Wendy Riebe said.

Wendy Riebe, who was at work at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham as the health services administrator, got a ride to her house by a co-worker who is a canine officer, Joe Sanborn.

Once they arrived, Sanborn was able to capture the family’s three dogs, Zeus, Max and Mazie, which had fled the fire. Sanborn placed the dogs in a kennel for the night, but the Riebes’ other pets, a bearded dragon named Mickey, a tortoise named Rocky, and two cats, Malibu and Boots, are believed to have died in the fire.

The house and surrounding 12 acres are owned by Wendy Riebe’s mother, Carole Doten. The Riebes have lived there for about six years.

“I went to Windham High School and grew up in this house,” Wendy Riebe said.

The Riebes will spend Tuesday evening in a local hotel, thanks to the American Red Cross. Their home is fully insured. Riebe said she is not sure whether they will rebuild.

The Riebes’ home is located in a rural area where there are no fire hydrants. Libby said firefighters from Windham and seven other towns responded and helped extinguish the fire by trucking in water from a nearby stream and the Pleasant River.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire, but the destruction was so extensive it is unlikely that a cause will be determined.

“Both structures were destroyed,” Libby said. “It’s unlikely a cause will be determined.”