A fire has interfered with the retirement plans of a couple new to St. James.

Glen Petruzzi and Laura Sienkiewicz purchased property at 3157 US 98 West and moved down from Derry, New Hampshire in March to renovate an existing house and make it their retirement home. The structure was a reinforced mobile home and insurers refused to cover it until the renovations were complete.

Before starting work on the main house, the couple fixed up a one-room cottage on the lot where they planned to live until work on the main house was complete.

They spent the summer and fall redoing the house, replacing appliances, painting and generally updating the house. Petruzzi said they were about 80 percent done with the improvements when on Monday, Jan. 9, disaster struck.

At about 8 p.m. neighbors dialed 911 to report a fire in the main house. The blaze started in a corner to the right of the front door. The couple say they have no clue what caused the fire as there were no appliances running and nothing stands in the point of origin.

“Just the wiring in the walls,” said Petruzzi.

The building was a total loss and was uninsured. Fortunately a newly installed septic system and central heat and air conditioning unit appear to have been left undamaged.

The state fire marshal has ruled the blaze accidental with the cause unknown.

The couple say they have clothes and can remain comfortably in their small cottage. “We are blessed,” said Sienkiewicz.

But the loss of the house has been a terrible financial blow.

Both Petruzzi and Sienkiewicz are now seeking employment. Sienkiewicz, a professional artist, is skilled in refurbishing furniture. She has worked as an art therapist with Alzheimer patients, in a rehabilitation facility and doing home health care, including end-of-life care..

Petruzzi is an experienced maintenance man. In addition to seeking employment, the couple could use help demolishing what remains of their home after the fire.

“I believe it will need heavy equipment to take it down without anybody getting hurt,” Petruzzi said. They would appreciate hearing from anyone who might be able to help with the demolition.

If you can help Petruzzi and Sienkiewicz or know of a possible job, you can call Petruzzi at (603) 247-4376.

The couple’s daughter Amanda has also started a Gofundme account for cash donations. To donate, go to Gofundme.com and type in Laura Sienkiewicz.