Fire destroyed the attached 1½ story house and the large barn, known as Mountain Spring Farm at 473 Andover Road on Wednesday. Rumford Fire Department photo

RUMFORD — A wind-driven fire destroyed a historic home and barn dating back to 1820, when it was owned by Commonwealth of Massachusetts, late Wednesday afternoon. Everything was lost except for one special item — a book written by a slave.

The 1½ story house and large barn, known as Mountain Spring Farm at 473 Andover Road, was owned by Anne Morin and Barry Allan, according to Rumford Fire Chief Chris Reed.

The chief said the couple went out to a Valentine’s Day lunch in Bethel, came back around 3:30 p.m., smelled something, noticed the barn was on fire, and dialed 911.

“When I got there, there was just a wall of flame from the wind blowing, at least 30 mph gusts. Flames were blowing out 60 feet high. You could actually hear it eat the building,” Reed noted.

He met with the Office of State Fire Marshal at the scene Thursday, but a cause has still not been determined. Reed believes it started in back of the barn where they kept their firewood.

Reed said the couple was fully insured on the property, but lost everything — except for one very special book.


That book had been written by a slave and it was documented. “(The slave) signed it. He sold the copy of it to free his brother, who was also a slave,” Reed said.

“The only thing (Morin) said was, ‘I know it’s a big fire, but if you get inside the house, get that book for me, because it was the original book.’ I said ‘okay,'” Reed said. “So when (Deputy Chief Mike Arsenault) got there, the place was cranking. I said, ‘Mike, if you get in, go to the left, get that book and get out.'”

When the front door to the house was opened, there was “kinda good visibility. (Mike) went in, grabbed the book. By the time he came out, he was army crawling underneath the flames because it was blowing out the door. But he got the book,” said Reed.

Reed said that following the fire, Morin was still talking about the book “because it meant a lot to her.”

“Firefighters were at the scene all night, putting out hot spots. It was a long time,” said Reed.

Assisting Rumford were firefighters and equipment from Mexico, Andover, Woodstock, Canton, Newry and Jay. Also assisting were Med-Care, Oxford County Regional Communications Center, Central Maine Power, Rumford Highway, Roxbury Fire and Rumford Police Department.

Reed gave special thanks to Peru Fire Department “who stayed with us throughout the night to help put out hot spots and to Ray and Anne Carver for going to get food for us.”

About this historic building, Reed said, “It sucks that it’s gone. It’s everything they ever had.”

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