Awakened 5-year-old neighbor alerted parents to flames through the trees

UPDATED: Fire Marshal says chair too close to wood stove caused house fire in Rockport

Posted:  Monday, January 9, 2017 - 1:15pm

ROCKPORT (Jan. 10, 1:27 p.m.) — The State Fire Marshal has determined that the cause of a Jan. 3 house fire in Rockport, which destroyed a mobile home on Vinal Street and caused injuries to the homeowner, was due to a chair placed too close to a wood stove.

Bruce Fales, 64, is still recovering from burns and smoke inhalation he suffered when he awoke to the fire and escaped out a bedroom window. He was interviewed by investigators over the weekend of Jan. 7-8, from his hospital room at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

According to a Fire Marshal’s Office, Fales told investigators he was asleep at the time of the fire, and after escaping out the window, crawled down his icy driveway to the road. He was found there, in the ditch, by a neighbor whose young son woke up and saw the flames through the woods and woke up his parents.

The mobile home was destroyed in the fire.

ROCKPORT (Jan. 3, 8:06 a.m.) — A 5-year-old boy is being credited for waking up just before 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3, and alerting his father to what turned out to be a fire that flattened a mobile home on Vinal Street in Rockport.

Rockport Fire Chief Jason Peasley said that it was his understanding that the boy first woke up his father and told him he "saw something weird in the woods." The boy's mother was awake then too, and while she called 911 and reported seeing flames behind the Green Thumb Nursery, the father got in his vehicle to drive down Vinal Street and investigate.

"He drove down the road and found a male lying in the ditch back at the main road, near the end of the driveway," said Peasley. "My understanding is there were no visible burns to his body, and that he apparently suffered all smoke inhalation."

According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, 64-year-old Bruce Fales was critically injured in the blaze. He was initially taken by North East Mobile Health Service ambulance to Pen Bay Medical Center, and then transferred to Maine Medical in Portland.

When the first firefighter, Phil Brown, arrived on scene, he reported that the trailer was fully involved, and that it was three-quarters destroyed.

Mutual aid from Rockland, Hope, Camden and Lincolnville was initially requested, but Peasley said that because the residence was 80 percent gone early on, he canceled that request just as the other towns got rolling to the scene.

Access to the home was hampered by a long, steep driveway, that was a sheet of ice. There were no other structures nearby the residence, and with the victim indicating he was the only one home and no chance of saving the home, the work was to preserve the scene for investigators.

Peasley said they were able to get one truck up to the home, but the second one had difficulty. He said they ended up reverse-laying a 2-1/2 inch line back to the main road, then shuttled water from the fire hydrant at Gurney and Old Rockland streets.

Rockport's entire fleet was at the scene, including engines 22, 23, 24 and 25, along with at least 18 firefighters. North East Mobile Health sent two ambulances.

Due to the extent of damage and the injury sustained at the scene, Peasley said the Fire Marshal's Office was called to investigate the cause.

"An investigator is on their way to Portland now to try and speak with the victim and another is visiting with his friends to get an understanding of how he lived, the layout of the home, the heating system and other things that might help them understand what happened," said Peasley.

Contact Holly S. Edwards at and 207-706-6655.