North Yarmouth family praises local support after lightning ignites house

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NORTH YARMOUTH — As she stood outside the charred shell of her home on Monday, Sherri Curit was more thankful for what had been saved than sorrowful over what her family had lost.

Lightning struck a well outside the 400 Royal Road house she shares with her husband, Maurice Curit, at about 10:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. The fire is believed to have erupted in the basement after coming through an underground wire from the well. The couple was down the street at the time, Curit said, while six people – their sons Jeremy and Alexander, Jeremy’s young daughters Gabi and Chloe, and friends Peter Magoon and Jonathan Greene – were at the house.

Magoon and Greene were on the porch and saw lightning strike the well, she said. They felt the lightning’s effects and were knocked out for several minutes, but not injured. Smoke had filled the home by the time Curit and her husband arrived, and the house was evacuated.

“We pulled in, and I got through the door, and I could just see this smoke pillowing everywhere,” Curit said. “And my oldest son had his 3-year-old daughter, and he passed her to me and goes, ‘Mum, get out of here, this house is on fire!’ That was my inside-the-house first moment.”

All the occupants were saved except for one small dog; two other dogs made it out alive.

“The smoke was so heavy,” Curit said. “My husband tried to go back in and get her, and he couldn’t see her; he almost passed out.”

While no people were injured in the fire, Jeremy Curit was taken to the hospital the next day and diagnosed with bronchitis from smoke inhalation.

North Yarmouth Fire Chief Clark Baston said a house on nearby Abbey Lane was also struck by lightning, along with homes in Yarmouth and Pownal, but did not burn.

Baston has been a firefighter in North Yarmouth for about 30 years. “I’ve never seen anything quite like (the Curit home fire),” he said. “… A true act of God, I guess you’d call it.”

Firefighters from North Yarmouth, New Gloucester, Durham, Falmouth, Brunswick, Cumberland and Yarmouth fought the blaze, according to Curit and her daughter, Jessica. They were there until early the next morning.

“All the surrounding towns are absolutely phenomenal,” Curit said, praising the firefighters for saving irreplaceable items in the house, such as family photos. “… The community has really rallied together, and we appreciate that 110 percent. I’ll never be able to repay these people that have touched us immensely.”

Curit also lauded the support of the community, as well as the American Red Cross, which gave the family money for food and clothing.

“You don’t realize what you need until you have nothing but what’s on your back,” she said.

The house, which was gutted, has been Maurice Curit’s home for all of his 51 years. Sherri Curit has lived there 30 years.

“It’s total devastation,” she said, adding that she was still feeling the shock. “We have our highs and our lows. … But, you know, it’s just a house. My grandchildren and my boys got out, and thank God for that.”

Maurice Curit’s truck was also a victim of the lightening strike; it blew a tire and its engine won’t start.

The family is staying with Sherri Curit’s father in North Yarmouth. They plan to rebuild on the site.

“We take it each day at a time,” she said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

n-nyarfire3-100809.jpgThe Curit home on Royal Road in North Yarmouth on Sunday morning, Oct. 4, shows the ravages of the previous night’s fire.

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n-nyarfire1-100809.jpgFirefighters battle the blaze at the Curit home on Royal Road in North Yarmouth on Saturday night, Oct. 3. Despite heavy rain, the fire became so intense that firefighters could only work from outside the building.n-nyarfire2-100809.jpgFirefighters pour water through what was the front door of the Curit home on Royal Road in North Yarmouth on Saturday, Oct. 3.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.