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Fatal fire

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2 people and 2 pets die in house fire

By Stevie Lowery

Editor’s note: The victims of Wednesday’s deadly house fire still haven’t been identified. According to Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Clements, their names will not be released until the coroner and medical examiner have officially concluded their findings, and their families have been notified.

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Sara Frances Love and Maxine Irene Love, the residents of a home that was destroyed by fire on Highview Pike in Raywick last week, led very private lives.

So much so, their house was almost entirely hidden from the rest of the world. Trees and brush concealed their two-story home, which is undoubtedly the way they wanted it. 

They valued their privacy. 

The ones who knew them best were likely their pets, some of whom have been left behind. A friendly dog and cat, along with several chickens, were still living among the smoky, charred remains of their house last week. The only thing left standing is the chimney. 

While very few of us knew them, one can only assume they were kind people. They were animal lovers, after all. Even their mailbox is decorated with animals - a blue jay, cardinal and finch – as well as ribbons and other ornaments.

Chris Goode of St. Francis, who got to know Sara and Maxine while being the postmaster in Raywick, said Sarah had a real love for chickens.

“She loved her animals,” Goode said. “She was really into those chickens. She would bring me eggs all the time.”

Goode said the two women lived at their home on Highview Pike for more than 30 years. And she believes both women had served in the military, possibly the Army, but she doesn’t know that for certain.

One thing Goode does know without a doubt is that both women were kind. After Chris’ husband, Curt, passed away on Dec. 17, 2018, Sara sent Chris at least three cards. Throughout the years, she would also give Chris small gifts from the Hallmark store in Campbellsville. They went to get coffee together at Starbuck’s in Bardstown in December, which is the last time Goode saw her.

“She was a very caring person,” Goode said.

Marion County Animal Control Officer Kay Turpin said she remembers Sara adopting two cats from the shelter. 

Sara was also long-time subscriber to The Lebanon Enterprise.

But, are Sara and Maxine the victims of last week’s fire?

That’s not been confirmed, and it could take some time to get DNA results to positively identify the victims, according to Sheriff Clements.

How the fire started will also likely remain a mystery. 

What we do know is that early Wednesday morning, April 24, at approximately 6:30 a.m., a school bus driver reported a house on fire at 100 Highview Pike in Raywick, according to Sheriff Clements. The Raywick Fire Department initially responded, and fire fighters from multiple departments were on scene until Wednesday evening when remains of two bodies were found. The medical examiner in Louisville is currently working to identify the remains.

Raywick Fire Chief Herman Riggs said when he arrived on the scene Wednesday morning, the large two-story home had already collapsed and was completely destroyed, along with several other small structures outside and three vehicles.

“It had been burning quite a while,” Riggs said.

Riggs said the cause of the fire couldn’t be determined.

Due to vehicles being on site, fire fighters and law enforcement officials were concerned the owners of the residence were likely home when the fire started. 

“We knew two ladies lived there,” Riggs said. “They never leave hardly. They were very private people. No family around this way.”

After the fire was completely extinguished, fire fighters from Raywick, Loretto, Lebanon and New Hope searched through the debris for approximately five hours, looking for human remains. Fire Marshal Chris Crawford also responded to the scene, as well as several cadaver dogs, Riggs said.

Eventually, they had to use a back hoe to search through the debris, which they borrowed from Peterson Farms. At approximately 9 p.m., fire fighters found human remains near where the home’s front door once stood.

“About six feet under the debris, we found the remains,” Riggs said.

They also found remains of at least one dog and one cat that had been inside the house at the time of the fire.

When the Enterprise was on the scene Thursday morning, there were still several animals on the premises, including a very friendly dog and cat, and several chickens. Marion County Animal Control responded to the scene on Thursday and were able to take possession of the cat, but the dog was missing, and the chickens are proving to be difficult to catch. A beagle dog that was on scene after the fire Wednesday was taken home that evening by a New Hope firefighter.

According to Chief Riggs, there is not an arson investigation planned at this time.