WATERVILLE — No one was injured Wednesday during a fire that heavily damaged a two-apartment house on Spruce Street.

Fire Chief David LaFountain said the cause of the afternoon blaze hasn’t been determined, but it isn’t believed to be suspicious.

About 5 p.m. Wednesday, dispatchers sounded the all-hands call to an attic fire at 38 Spruce St. Five engines from Waterville and Winslow responded, blocking Drummond Avenue and parts of Spruce Street. By 6:40 p.m., the fire was under control, but the roof had collapsed partially. LaFountain said it was too soon to say whether the home was beyond repair.

Tenant Jeff White, 37, stood shirtless on a nearby sidewalk and watched the house burn.

“We just lost everything,” he said. “The kids don’t even have shoes on their feet.”

Eight people — all related — were displaced by the fire. White lived in the downstairs apartment with his wife, Janet, and three children. His mother-in-law, Pamela LaBrie, lived upstairs with two children. White said he couldn’t afford renter’s insurance because he was out of work with a back injury.


LaBrie said she thought wiring was responsible for the blaze. She had been living in the home since May and said the lights flickered so often one of her grandchildren had to stay out of the apartment for fear of seizures. Minutes before the fire erupted, the power went out in LaBrie’s apartment. When White went upstairs to investigate the power outage, he smelled smoke.

“I knew what it was right away and got everybody out,” he said. “When we got outside, we saw flames 30 or 40 feet in the air.”

When the fire engines arrived, a tower truck extended its ladder to the roof and firefighters used a chain saw and an ax to cut several holes into the roof, and black smoke poured from the attic like four pillars in a windless sky. Next, all the firefighters evacuated the building and hose teams moved in to douse the flames.

About 50 people gathered on two sides of the house, which stands on the southeast corner of Drummond Avenue and Spruce Street, to watch more than 20 firefighters at work. The building’s owner, Edward Jurdak, stood on Spruce Street with his son George Jurdak, the building’s manager. George said his father has owned the building for more than 20 years. It was uninsured, he said.

LaFountain said his crews would continue working on the house into the evening. Most of the fire was confined to the southern end of the house.

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