A fire Monday afternoon at a house on Atlantic Lane on Long Island took the life of one of the homeowners, believed to be 69-year-old Thomas Johnson. Photo courtesy of Maine Department of Public Safety

One person died in a house fire Monday afternoon on Long Island, the Office of the State Fire Marshal confirmed Tuesday.

Investigators were on the island Tuesday morning to search though 6 feet of rubble and recovered the body of one person, believed to be 69-year-old Thomas Johnson, according to Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the fire marshal’s office.

Johnson was one of two family members in the home when the fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Moss said. The other person was able to get out and run to a nearby home to call for help.

Long Island Fire Chief Will Tierney, in a telephone interview Tuesday evening, confirmed that the victim was Thomas Johnson. Tierney said Johnson, whom he has known for about 15 years, was a retired lobsterman who lived on the island most of his life. He lived in the two-story home with his wife, Debra, and their adult daughter, according to Tierney.

Tierney said Johnson had mobility issues that may have prevented him from escaping the burning home.

“He was a really kind, gentle softspoken person, someone who everyone on the island held in high regard,” Tierney said.


Johnson’s wife and daughter are staying with neighbors, Tierney said.

It has been a deadly year for fires in Maine. So far this year, 23 people have died in fires, including eight in November. There were 19 fatal fires in 2022, according to data from the state.

Monday’s fire destroyed the two-story home at 41 Atlantic Lane. The fire and a plume of black smoke could be seen from the Eastern Prom in Portland and from Falmouth and South Portland. Smoke covered the northern end of Long Island and parts of Cousins and Littlejohn islands.

Tierney said he was the first person to arrive at the house fire on Monday.

“It was fully involved. Fire was coming out of the windows and both sides of the house,” Tierney said. Tierney said Johnson’s daughter made it out safely. His wife was not home, according to the fire chief.

Neighbors and volunteers shuttled water to prevent the fire from spreading. A crew of firefighters and EMTs from Chebeague Island arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after the fire was reported. Long Island has a crew of eight to 10 on-call firefighters, and a fire station equipped with two fire engines, a brush truck and two tankers.

Investigators from the fire marshal’s office went to the scene Monday night but were unable to do a complete search because of the amount of debris and lack of light, Moss said. Moss said late Tuesday evening that the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Johnson’s body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta to confirm the identification.

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