WATERVILLE — Rick Mahew was sitting at his kitchen table Wednesday night when he began to smell burning plastic. He looked out the window and saw his landlord’s boat, garage and truck were on fire outside and told his wife to quickly call 911.

Deanna Butcher, Mahew’s landlady, and her husband, Robert Butcher, were also home in their downstairs apartment at 5 Belmont Avenue at the time but Deanna Butcher said she didn’t see the fire start.

“There were a bunch of people around who called 911,” said Butcher, 55. “As soon as we came outside we saw the boat, the truck, the garage — all of it — engulfed.”

Waterville Fire Chief David LaFountain said firefighters and Waterville police were investigating the cause of the garage fire, first reported around 9 p.m., and couldn’t immediately say what might have caused it.

Butcher said she believes the fire is suspicious, but doesn’t know who would set her family’s garage on fire or why.

“I asked if they were going to investigate it,” she said. “They said ‘yes’ and I said, ‘Good.'”

The garage and its contents, including a large boat, were largely destroyed, and the siding on the back of the 5 Belmont Avenue house was also melted in the fire, though LaFountain said he didn’t see any reason why the two families would not be allowed back in the house Wednesday night.

The fire blocked traffic on Belmont Avenue and part of Western Avenue for at least an hour Wednesday night and drew several downtown spectators to the street.

Tammy Brown and Lauren LePage, who were sitting outside on nearby Silver Street, heard a loud sound like an explosion followed by flames and called 911, they said.

“There were a lot of booms and it sounded like some kind of explosion,” Brown said.

Carol Standring was also nearby at the Big Apple on Elm Street at the time the fire started. “I just got off work and was taking my daughter to do some shopping,” she said. “We heard a big boom like a gunshot and my daughter just froze in the car seat.”

“I’m just glad that everybody got out and that it was contained and didn’t spread to the house,” Butcher said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

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Twitter: @rachel_ohm