Whitefield mom: ‘Nothing short of a miracle’ family survived fire

Damariscotta woman sets up online fund for Pagurko family
Posted:  Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 6:45am

Newcastle-raised Melanie Pagurko was thankful for many things Tuesday. In a phone interview two days after her family escaped a fire that destroyed their Whitefield home, she said the outpouring of generosity from the local and regional community where she and husband John Pagurko have ties has been completely amazing. And she said the fact the family made it out of Sunday’s fire demonstrates the importance of working smoke detectors.

“Please, everyone, get your smoke detectors checked and put them all through the house,” Pagurko said. Their home had three, including one near the laundry room area. She and Whitefield Fire Chief Scott Higgins said that’s where the fire started. The other two detectors were too far from there to have gone off in time for her, husband John and their children to get out, Pagurko said.

“It was nothing short of a miracle. I am nothing but grateful.”

The home was not insured, due to a series of challenges the family has faced over the years. Pagurko said the fire was “just more adversity,” but adversity has made her and her husband resilient, which is helping them deal with the loss of the home. “You learn to be resourceful,” she added. Her husband, who also grew up in Newcastle, has already mentioned possibly building on a slab made years ago on the property. He has been going back to the property to work the farm, she said.

The family is staying at a neighbor’s house. The offer was one of many acts of generosity since the fire, Pagurko said. A friend, Christina Nelson of Damariscotta, started a gofundme.com page, “Pagurko House Fire Fund.” As of early Tuesday afternoon, donations were at $6,650. In a phone interview Monday night, Nelson said her daughters take dance lessons from Melanie Pagurko and the two have been friends for several years. As soon as Nelson learned about the fire, she wanted to do what she could for the family. Her husband Thomas had helped with gofundme pages before, so he helped her get it started, she said.

As for the donations already appearing, totaling about $5,000 at the time, Nelson said: “I think it’s incredible for a small community.”