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Investigators return to scene of Orrington house fire

6:27 PM, Nov 11, 2012   |    comments
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ORRINGTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Investigators have returned to the scene of a fire that left a man and his three children dead Saturday morning.

Maine fire officials were being assisted by electrical and heating inspectors at the scene Sunday as they continued to determine what caused the fire. Investigators did say they are making progress.

Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland says the bodies of a man and his three children were removed from the Dow Road home Saturday and taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Augusta for autopsies.  Their mother escaped the fire and was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor to be treated for smoke inhalation. Her condition has improved.

Officials have identified the man as 30-year-old Ben Johnson III, and his three children as 9-year-old Ben, 8-year-old Leslie, and 4-year-old Ryan.  Their mother has been identified as 31-year-old Christine Johnson.  The Department of Public Safety says Christine Johnson was rescued off the roof of the house by neighbors and firefighters.

McCausland says fire crews were first called to the scene around 2:30 a.m. Saturday by neighbors who heard a woman screaming. Firefighters say the two-story house was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived on scene, and the bodies were found a short time later when firefighters entered the house.

Officials say the Johnsons moved into the rented house about six months ago from Bangor.  McCausland says Ben Johnson III worked at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, and Christine Johnson is an author who worked out of the house.

The State Fire Marshal's Office plans to interview Johnson and other witnesses Sunday evening.

"For neighbors to be able to tell us where did they see the flames when they saw it at that certain time, that type of an idea helps us to be able to conduct that investigation in a more thorough manner," Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said at the scene Saturday.

A report of the findings should be released Monday.

McCausland said this is the deadliest fire the state has seen in 20 years. The last time four people died was at a Portland apartment in 1992.

NEWS CENTER

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