AUGUSTA — Authorities said they are unable to determine the cause of a massive Northern Avenue apartment building fire that left 27 people homeless.

Sgt. Kenneth Grimes, of the state fire marshal’s office, said Friday the cause of the huge blaze, which left little more than ashes and rubble behind where the building once stood, has been officially classified as undetermined.

That means that unless new information or evidence is discovered, the cause will remain unknown.

Grimes said the biggest factor in not being able to determine a cause was the massive amount of damage wrought by the flames, which left little if any evidence behind.

Grimes said state fire marshal’s office investigators and Augusta police made “exhaustive efforts to do interviews but, after reviewing all the information, there wasn’t enough to classify the cause” other than as undetermined.

All 23 people in the 18-unit building at 36 Northern Ave. at the time of the Dec. 5 fire escaped, a few with minor injuries. A total of 27 people were left homeless by the blaze, which drew firefighters from numerous area municipalities to help put it out.

Investigators said previously the building had working smoke detectors and each apartment had two exits, which allowed all of the residents to flee the burning building, according to Steve McCausland, state Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Thursday, at an Augusta City Council meeting, Ward 3 Councilor Patrick Paradis praised the owner of 36 Northern Ave., Yvon Doyon, for keeping his building up to code and safe.

“He met every safety code, everything was in working order, his tenants liked him and he was very conscientious,” Paradis said. “This gentleman made sure his dwellings which he was renting met all the health and safety codes, and the proof was, in a terrible fire, not one life was lost. And it could have been a very, very sad thing for this community and a lot of families.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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