An overheated window fan caused a fire Wednesday in a multi-family home on Beech Street in Skowhegan that displaced a pair of families living there, according to the American Red Cross and fire officials.

The fire in the first-floor apartment at 42 Beech St. was contained to one room, and it caused no injuries and little damage, firefighter Linwood Corson said Thursday. Even so, two families were forced to leave as a result of the fire.

Firefighters arrived at the scene at 10:29 a.m. Wednesday after a call from a passer-by who saw smoke. The fire was under control a half-hour later.

The cause of the fire was an overheated window fan, said Capt. Jason Frost, of the Skowhegan Fire Department. Once the fan caught fire, it’s believed that it fell onto the mattress in the room. Firefighters took the mattress outside the house to put out the fire, he said.

The first floor sustained heavy smoke damage and will have to be repaired, but the second floor had minimal smoke damage, Frost said. People were upstairs when the fire started, but they got out safely, he said.

The Red Cross said in a Wednesday news release it will meet with the families to make sure they have a safe place to sleep, food and other essentials. There was no information on how many people are in the families.

“Over the next several days the Red Cross will stay in contact with those individuals and families to provide referrals as they begin their road to recovery,” the release said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

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Twitter: @madelinestamour