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Hope community rallies around family left homeless by fire

Owner mourns loss of 13 pet cats
By Daniel Dunkle | Mar 25, 2021
Courtesy of: Connie Bassett Magivney Connie Bassett Magivney with a furry friend before the fire that would claim all of her possessions and her pet cats.

Hope — “It’s devastating to have all of this ripped from you,” said Connie Bassett Magivney.

On March 21 a brush fire spread onto her property at 298 Camden Road. Passersby pulled over and pounded on the door of her mobile home to alert her as the nearby garage went up in flames.

She did not have time to retrieve much of anything as the blaze jumped in the wind from structure to structure.

Lost in the fire were her 13 cats, which she refers to as her “purr babies"; photos from her life going back to when she was 18 years old, including raising her two children; and all of her possessions. She even lost the urns containing the ashes of her late husband and her son.

She said the people who helped get her out would not let her go back in to try to help her cats. “I felt like I failed them,” she said.

“They’re not just animals,” she said. “Some people consider them family. These were my babies.”

She characterized the situation as her being dragged away from the scene. As she watched the garage on the property burn, she said flames shot up 20 feet in the air. The property had several structures on it including the mobile home, a camper, a garage and chicken barn. The barn survived.

She said the cats had helped her with depression after the death of her husband, Kenneth Magivney Sr., in August. He had died of cancer after they had been married for 20 years.

She and her son, Kenny Magivney Jr., 20, are now sharing a room in her daughter’s mobile home in Brunswick, sleeping on a mattress and an air mattress on the floor.

Her son, who has autism, lost all of his video games and his beloved Godzilla items.

His mother noted numerous possessions lost to the blaze including antique furniture, family heirlooms, collectible figurines, collections of DVDS and books.

Sgt. Mary MacMaster of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said Thursday, March 25, that the investigation had been turned over to the Maine Forest Service because it had started as a brush fire.

Hope Fire Chief Clarence Keller said in previous comments that the Fire Marshal’s Office was originally contacted because the fire department could not determine the cause of the blaze. The buildings and property were fully involved when the firefighters arrived at the scene.

The town has been rallying around the family. A Gofundme page (the link is below) set up to help the family had raised nearly $11,000 by Thursday afternoon.

Billie-Jean Steere at the Hope General Store said the customers have already filled a big old-fashioned candy jar with donations for the family once and are now working on filling it again.

Steere added that half the town has been out looking for the cats, hoping to find survivors.

One of the items lost in the fire was the key fob for Magivney’s minivan. Molly Luce had the van towed to Shepard Motors in Thomaston for the family and made sure the key was replaced for her.

“I love the town of Hope,” Magivney said.

The family attends services at the Apostolic Christian Life Center on Buttermilk Lane in Thomaston. The church planned a birthday party for Kenny’s March 29 birthday.

Magivney faced significant struggles even before the fire. Originally from Brockton, Mass., Magivney was hit by a truck when she was younger and has had lasting health problems. Her husband was a house painter before he was diagnosed with skin, pancreas and then lung cancer. Much of her job has been taking care of her husband and son.

Her pets provided her comfort in the aftermath of losing her husband.

The cats ranged in age from seven months to 16 years old. Their names were: Gracie, Susie, Muffin, Pumpkin, Chicken, Meow, Ruby, Daisy, Bigfoot, Cookie, Molly, Steve, and Melman.

“It’s so sad it’s all gone,” Magivney said.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Mar 25, 2021 18:30

How horribly sad. Talk about bad luck.

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