AUGUSTA — A fire that broke out Thursday afternoon gutted a Northern Avenue apartment and caused one resident to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

The two-story building, at 146 Northern Ave., was heavily damaged by the fire. It took firefighters nearly three hours to douse the blaze.

Sgt. Ken Grimes of the State Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and said a cause had not been determined. He said investigators wouldn’t be able to enter the building until late Thursday evening.

Augusta Fire Department crews were dispatched around 2:45 p.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief David Groder. Fire department crews from Togus, Chelsea, Winthrop and Gardiner helped battle the blaze, Groder said.

Augusta Police Sgt. Chris Shaw said three residents lived in the building and two of them were home when the fire broke out. One resident was covered in smoke and was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta for treatment.

He said the other resident wasn’t injured.

Thomas Morin of Northern Avenue said he was driving to the store when he saw flames and smoke coming out of the first floor windows.

After pulling over, Morin said he saw a man stumble out of a first floor apartment with singed hair, and the man told Morin to call 911.

“It’s indescribable — just horrific,” Morin said.

The fire also damaged the neighboring apartment building, melting the white siding and charring the exterior wall closest to the fire.

The owner of the building is James P. Pepin, according to city property records. Pepin purchased the 2,266-square-foot building in 2000, and it was built in 1928, according to records.

Pepin is a real estate agent for Sprague & Curtis Real Estate. He did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

In 2010, a fire destroyed the attic of another apartment owned by Pepin, located about 500 yards away on Stewart Lane. No one was injured in the 2010 fire, which was likely caused by an electric malfunction in the attic.

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