Heat lamp ignited fatal fire

Melissa Watership
Melissa Watership

BAR HARBOR — A house fire Wednesday that left one person and a dog dead is believed to have been caused by a heat lamp, according to a statement from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The fire has been ruled accidental, officials said.

Melissa Watership, 46, died after being rescued from the house by firefighters. She “likely was either distracted or taking nap when the fire broke out,” the statement said.

The heat lamp was being used to keep baby chickens warm, officials said.

“Watership had obtained the chicks that morning and had placed them in a sawdust filled box in her bedroom, which is room where the fire started,” state police spokesman Steve McCausland wrote in a statement. “The fire was started by either the lamp tipping over, or being placed too close to the box.”

Firefighters responded to reports of a house on fire at 3:45 p.m. Watership’s husband Matt Cough was away from home at the time of the fire. Her two young children were out of state with their father.

Firefighters found Watership in the kitchen. She was unresponsive when they brought her outside on a stretcher and administered CPR. She was taken to nearby MDI Hospital in an ambulance, where she was later pronounced dead.

There was fire damage to the bedroom and heavy smoke damage throughout the rest of the one story house, McCausland said.

Many community members have been expressing grief and condolences on social media. Some have brought flowers and cards to Acadia Veterinary Hospital, where Watership used to work.

A cat, Zippy, was rescued from the basement, given oxygen at the scene of the fire, and treated at Acadia Vet. The cat is doing well and will be reunited with its family, staff said.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.
Liz Graves

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