State fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire early Saturday that destroyed an abandoned house at 570 North Ave. in Skowhegan, on property where police earlier this year searched for Tina Stadig, a woman missing for more than a year.

Investigators from the state Fire Marshal’s Office were called to the fire, reported by a passer-by at 5:15 a.m., to help determine the cause and point of origin, according to Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard. He indicated a person might have been involved in the fire.

“Obviously, with no heat sources, no electricity, what that leaves is a human element to the fire,” he said. “Whether that was accidental or done on purpose, that’s what we’re not sure of right now. Certainly, we would suspect that there was a human element.”

Skowhegan Police Chief David Bucknam said Skowhegan and Maine State Police searched the building and property for Stadig in June but did not find anything. He said he doesn’t think there was any connection to Stadig’s disappearance and the fire Saturday.

“Do I think there’s any relevance as to the fire and her? Most likely not,” Bucknam said. “We did a very thorough search in that area and didn’t come across anything. The building burning, at this point, would not really be relevant to Tina’s disappearance.”

Bucknam said that in June, he and Skowhegan’s criminal investigation division, as well as the State Police Major Crimes Unit, searched there, did some digging with heavy equipment and used cadaver dogs.


Stadig, 40, was last seen on May 28, 2017, in Skowhegan. She was reported as a missing person on July 4, 2017, and a Skowhegan police detective took up the case.

Donna Almeida said in a message to the Morning Sentinel at the time that Stadig is her daughter and suffers from mental illness.

Bucknam said Saturday that police continue to investigate her disappearance and anyone with information that may lead to her whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Michael Batchelder at [email protected] or call the Police Department at 474-6908.

“We still have our phones and our emails open,” he said.

Howard, the fire chief, said Saturday that around 20 firefighters from Skowhegan, Canaan, Athens, Madison, Norridgewock and Cornville responded to the fire, as it occurred outside the hydrant district and water had to be hauled in by tanker trucks. Firefighters got the fire under control fairly quickly, he said.

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