Firefighters from four southern Maine communities fought this blaze at 19 Harmon Ave., in Old Orchard Beach Saturday night. the home was occupied by Maurice and Barbara Doucette and their children. COURTESY PHOTO/Perian Carpenter

Firefighters from four southern Maine communities fought this blaze at 19 Harmon Ave., in Old Orchard Beach Saturday night. the home was occupied by Maurice and Barbara Doucette and their children. COURTESY PHOTO/Perian Carpenter

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The community has rallied to support the Doucette family, whose 19 Harmon St. home was destroyed in a fire Saturday.

Old Orchard Beach Fire Department Capt. John Fitzpatrick said firefighters were called to a fire at the ranch-style home around 5 p.m. Saturday. He said the fire was quickly knocked down by firefighters from his department, as well as the departments of Biddeford, Saco and Scarborough.

Rose Bowdoin and Erica Albair pause while loading donations for the Doucette family in a truck in front of Old Orchard Beach High School Monday afternoon.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Rose Bowdoin and Erica Albair pause while loading donations for the Doucette family in a truck in front of Old Orchard Beach High School Monday afternoon.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

The fire was caused when 21-year-old Devin Doucette attempted to get rid of ants in the basement by lighting them on fire with wooden matches, according to Maine Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland.

One of the matches ignited near combustibles and the fire spread quickly to the rest of the house, according to McCausland. No charges are likely, said McCausland.

Doucette was treated and released for smoke inhalation and burns to his hands and arms after he carried some of the burning items out of the house, said McCausland.

The family’s dog and two cats were killed in the fire, said McCausland.

The home is owned by Doucette’s parents, Maurice, “Moe” and Barbara Doucette, who were not home at the time of the fire, said McCausland.

Old Orchard Beach High School Principal and Regional School Unit 23 Superintendent John Suttie said he was contacted by the school resource officer about the fire over the weekend. The Doucettes have a daughter, Joyce, who is a sophomore at Old Orchard Beach High School, and their two sons, Devin and Noah graduated from the high school, said Suttie.

Suttie got in touch with friends of the Doucettes, sent out a district-wide phone call to the school community and posted notices on social media.

Word quickly spread, as did an outpouring of support.

Family friend Erica Albair set up an online fundraising page at gofundme, and within 24 hours, it had surpassed the $10,000 goal.

The school posted on its Facebook page clothing sizes for Devin, Joyce, Barbara and Moe Doucette. Noah Doucette is currently backpacking across the country, say friends.

Albair and Rose Bowdoin were at Old Orchard Beach High School carrying a collection of donated items into the back of a pick-up truck Monday afternoon. Both said they were proud to be part of such a close-knit, giving town.

“I can’t explain how awesome this community is,” said Bowdoin. She said a number of gift cards to grocery stores and department stores had been donated as well. She said the Doucette family has been given the use of an apartment through the middle of May, and others had donated mattresses and living room furniture.

Albair described Mo and Barbara Doucette as a couple who “would do anything for anybody.”

“They’re just really great people,” said Bowdoin.

The Doucettes were involved in local scout groups and Moe Doucette volunteers at a local food pantry, said Bowdoin and Albair.

“They’re always volunteering on behalf of kids,” said Suttie, noting the couple ran the concession stand at school athletic events.

Albair said Mo and Barbara Doucette were in Massachusetts at the time of the fire. She said the couple was still processing what had happened and though they did not want to talk to the media at this time, they wanted everyone to know they were extremely grateful for the support they had received from the community.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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