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UMaine student saves family from dryer fire

Tristan Degen, a third-year marine science student, was proven a hero over spring break while living at home in Bangor, Maine. What started as a small pop in the circuit of the dryer in his home turned into a smoke-filled room that Tristan was able to quickly contain before it spread through the home.

Degen said he and his father heard a noise in the laundry room around 8:00 a.m one Sunday morning and rushed to see what the problem was. Upon arrival, there was a slight glow behind the knob on the dryer and Tristan’s father pulled the plug, releasing smoke that filled the entire room. Degen retrieved the fire extinguisher from the garage and contained the smoke before firefighters could arrive. The fire was contained to only the laundry room, but smoke spread throughout the house.

The Bangor fire department pried apart the dryer that had turned black from the flames and was burnt out. There were wooden cabinets above the dryer that were also damaged in the fire.

Degen said he had a clear, calm head during the “ridiculously smoky” ordeal. He explained that his younger brother was asleep upstairs and upon being woken by his mother, he left the house. His mother left as well with their dog. Degen and his father then had to air the house out “in zero-degree weather to get rid of the plasticy smell” that engulfed the house. Degen had a headache for several days following the event.

Degen is a student employee at the University of Maine New Balance Recreation Center and has been for almost a year. He currently works at the front desk and acts as a manager. “He’s one of the best employees we’ve ever had,” Eric Swett, Operations Coordinator at the recreation center said. “He has a great attitude, he’s extremely humble, he’s polite, friendly, you name it. He’s what you want.”

“He’s an excellent young man,” Arthur “Dodge” Tucker, Graduate Assistant for Operations & Intramural Sports added. “He showed up that same day to work and we didn’t know what had happened.” Upon being told this information, Tucker pulled Degen aside and asked how his weekend had gone to which Degen replied, “I hung out, didn’t do much.” Tucker laughed and explained that was the type of person Degen was — not one to bring attention to himself.

Degen works long hours at the recreation center and is one of the most liked student employees. “He’s wonderful,” Kristie Deschesne, Assistant Director for Programming commented. She added that Degen’s mother contacted her to tell her of the incident several hours after it occurred. “She is very proud and thankful for what Tristan did and wanted to share it, as he’s not the kind of guy to bring attention to himself. I actually saw him that morning before I knew about it and he never mentioned it!”

Degen currently lives at home in Bangor and plans to move to the Orono area for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.

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