AUGUSTA — No one was injured in a late-night electrical fire Saturday that forced evacuation of all tenants of a 17-unit building at 26 Sewall St., and some were allowed to return home Sunday afternoon.

Battalion Chief John Bennett of the Augusta Fire Department said a tenant in a top-floor apartment reported hearing crackling and popping noises in the attic at 9:44 p.m.

Firefighters saw light smoke coming from the eaves when they arrived and pulled the alarm to evacuate the building. Bennett said the fire at that point was too small to activate the building’s smoke alarms.

He said firefighters also went door-to-door to assure that everyone was out quickly and cut the electrical power to the building.

Getting access to the blaze in the attic was difficult. Firefighters had to cut a hole in the rear gable end of the four-story structure.

“The guys did an excellent job finding and extinguishing the fire,” Bennett said. “It was hot and humid and the guys did a fantastic job.” He said that based on what they found and the tenant’s description, the fire was electrical in origin.


Responding to the alarms were off-duty Augusta firefighters as well as firefighters from Chelsea, Gardiner, Hallowell, Togus and Winthrop.

The Augusta Fire Department was at the scene until just after 1 a.m. Sunday.

The 12,000-square-foot building, owned by Sewall LLC and assessed at $560,000, according to city records, sustained very little fire damage, but some smoke and water damage to several apartments, Bennett said.

Bennett said Sunday that an electrician was working with the building’s property managers to try to get power restored to some units so most of the tenants could return. Bennett said the city’s codes office will be notified, as usual.

The building is between Green and Weston streets.

For tenant Josh Harrison, the blaze was the second encounter with fire at his residence in three months.


“I was just freaking out,” he said. “The last building I lived in, the whole place went up.”

He was one of several tenants left homeless in March when fire damaged 146 Northern Ave. so badly it was later torn down. One of the other tenants, Stephen Cormier, was indicted on arson and aggravated criminal mischief charges in that Northern Avenue blaze.

Harrison waited patiently with a few other tenants Sunday outside their Sewall Street building as they awaited clearance to return to their units.

Dave Libby, property manager, said they were back in their residences early Sunday afternoon and that the tenants in the units with the most damage would be accommodated as well.

Many of the displaced tenants spent the night at Motel 6.

Harrison said it didn’t appear his second-floor apartment sustained much damage. His belongings, he said, were all purchased through the generosity of the Red Cross, Sam’s Club and others after he lost everything in the previous fire.

Harrison walked around the back of the long, narrow structure and pointed to where insulation hung from a small hole high up near the roof, where the firefighters gained access.

“I’m just glad everybody got out OK,” he said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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