SKOWHEGAN — A Milburn Street apartment house was heavily damaged in a fire late Tuesday night as fire crews struggled to fight the blaze in the hot humid weather.

Five people lived in two separate apartments in the building at 72 Milburn St.

They were cared for by the American Red Cross while the fire department investigates the cause, which is believed to be electrical, said Skowhegan Fire Chief Richard Fowler.

Trudy Hill, 54, who lived in the upstairs apartment with her son and his girlfriend, said she lost everything — including her cat, Spaz, a gray tabby mix.

“We were playing computer games and watching TV and our power went out,” Hill said Wednesday in a friend’s apartment near her burned home. “We went to the power breaker out back and the button was off so we turned it back on. It didn’t want to stay on at first, so we did it a few times and I called the house manager.”

About an hour later, the power went off again — and this time there were flames shooting out of wires in the breaker box.

“The house was on fire,” she said, crying. “I lost everything I own — clothing, dishes, bathroom items, furniture and my cat.”

Hill’s son, Gregory, said the kitchen and bathroom were “totally gone.” Hill said she told the building owner about electrical problems over the past two years, but nothing was ever been done to fix the problems.

The fire was reported around 11 p.m. and when fire departments from six towns arrived. There was heavy smoke and flames showing out one side of the building, said Fowler.

“The heat and humidity really took a toll on the firefighters. It’s hard work as it is and with all the humidity it was a rough night for everybody,” said Fowler.

Firefighters from Athens, Canaan, Hartland, Madison and Norridgewock also assisted at the scene, where crews remained on until about 2:30 a.m.

The second floor of the house, where the family lived, is uninhabitable and there is heavy smoke and water damage on the first floor, Fowler said. There were no injuries reported.

Fowler confirmed later Wednesday that the cause of the fire was electrical. He said he did not know if the owner of the building, Thomas Harville, is insured.

Harville is listed on town assessors records as the owner of at least 11 properties in Skowhegan, including 73 Milburn St., directly across from the fire scene, according to town assessing records and information recorded at the Somerset County Registry of Deeds.

Telephone messages placed Wednesday to Harville were not immediately returned.

Hill and her family said they will stay in a hotel for the next three nights, courtesy of the American Red Cross. Her pets are being care for by people from an animal rescue program until they can find a new apartment.

“I pray we can find some place to live with our dogs and cats because nobody wants to rent to people that have animals,” she said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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