A house and a wedding: New beginnings after Fort Kent fire
by Don Eno
Jun 19, 2012 | 1750 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new beginning after Fort Kent fire. - SJVT photo / Don Eno
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June 13 edition - FORT KENT - When Fort Kent town employee Matt Bard saw that there was a fire at Nadeau's House of Furniture in the early morning hours of March 25, among the first people he called was his friend Chad Pelletier, who was living in one of the apartments above the store with his fiancée Danielle Guerrette.

"He called the fire department, then he called me," said Pelletier.

Pelletier said that he and Guerrette were just outside of town visiting with friends when Bard got through on his cell phone. Despite this notification, however, the young couple would end up losing everything in their apartment that day.

The downtown blaze, which took down three structures, also displaced 13 other residents and two long-time businesses.

Today the young couple is putting the final touches on a new home in Fort Kent, and their family and friends will be having a housewarming later this month.

"A lot of good came out of the bad," Pelletier said on Saturday, outside of their new home on South Perley Brook Road.

Having lived in the apartment since October of 2011, the two had been engaged for only three weeks before the fire struck.

Pelletier said that they had been planning to look for a house this year anyway, but with the disruption of losing all of their possessions as well as the roof over their heads, some time was needed to consider what their next step should be.

After the fire, Guerrette said each of them had stayed with family while weighing the options of searching for another apartment or pushing their house-shopping up several months.

Eventually they moved ahead with searching for their own home, and looked at several possibilities before deciding on their new house. After a few weeks of cleaning and some renovating, they moved in in early May.

"We are pretty happy with what we have," Pelletier said.

Like many of the displaced residents, Pelletier and Guerrette said the outpouring of support from the community was remarkable.

"The town really helped us get back on our feet," the couple said.

"It makes us appreciate living in a small town," said Pelletier.

The couple said that each of their employers and coworkers were generous in the aftermath of the fire. At Ed Pelletier and Sons, where Pelletier works, the company matched the money contributed by its employees towards helping them.

"Friends came out of the woodwork to help," said Guerrette, who is a medical assistant at Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent. "There was call after call, offering to help."

Guerrette said even people no longer living in the St. John Valley got involved, whether that was a friend in Bar Harbor donating an evening’s worth of tips, or a night club in Portland hosting a fundraising concert.

"I can't explain it," Guerrette said. "We will be forever grateful."

The couple’s wedding is planned for October.