Gardiner continues to rally around the dozens of elderly residents forced from their home by a fire earlier this month.

Todd Mattson, of C.B. Mattson, which owns the multi-unit apartment building at 211 Highland Ave., said all but two of the roughly 30 people displaced by the Feb. 4 fire have been placed in permanent housing. The city and local agencies, including The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Gardiner, continue to raise money and collect supplies for the victims.

“There’s been great support from the United Way and the Red Cross, but local people keep asking, ‘What can I do?'” Mayor Thomas Harnett said. “It’s really been inspiring to watch.” The fire, reported about 11:40 p.m., heavily damaged half of a 28-unit senior citizens’ apartment building known as Highland Terrace. No one was killed or seriously injured in the fire, which appeared to have started in a first-floor apartment near the building’s common area and then spread to the south wing. Damage was isolated to the wing closest to the road.

The south end of the building is a total loss, but the wing away from the road sustained only smoke and possibly some water damage, Gardiner Fire Chief Al Nelson said at the time.

Sgt. Ken Grimes of the Office of the State Fire Marshal said the fire was accidental.

“We believe it’s a malfunction of a ceiling light,” Grimes said.

Mattson said his company has placed 19 people in one of the other 25 properties that it owns.

“All but two of the remaining residents have been placed in other housing,” he said. C.B. Mattson, as well as other agencies, including the Maine State Housing Authority and Augusta Housing, are working to find homes for the remaining two.

Mattson said it can be difficult finding a new home that will meet each person’s needs, but he expects the process will soon be complete when the two remaining people are placed in a home.

“It really depends on the resident,” Mattson said. “The week following the fire that Thursday was one of the busiest weeks we’ve ever had. With the exception of those two, it went very well.”

Harnett said people and businesses have donated to help with the victims’ other needs, such as clothing and furniture. Some residents, in the less damaged section, lost almost nothing, Harnett said; but many residents lost everything.

A GoFundMe account established for the victims has raised more than $2,000. Harnett said Kennebec Savings Bank and Bank of Maine have made “significant” donations that are not reflected in that total. Reny’s gave each of the victims $100 gift cards.

The Boys & Girls Club is organizing a spaghetti fundraiser for Wednesday at Dave’s Diner at 390 Brunswick Ave. There will be two seatings, at 4:30 and 5:45 p.m. Tickets cost $10 per person and can be bought at City Hall and the Boys & Girls Club at 14 Pray St.

“It’s tremendous support,” Harnett said.

Cash donations are particularly appreciated because the money can be used for any need, but people also can donate goods by contacting executive assistant Robin Plourde at Gardiner City Hall at 582-4200. The Boys & Girls Club will store the items until they can be distributed, Harnett said.

“We’ve had very good success in getting people to help out with no-cost deliveries,” he said.

The city has formed a five-person committee, which includes Harnett, a city resident and employees of the city and C.B. Mattson, to disperse the money and supplies fairly.

“We’re trying to do it in as organized and efficient way as possible, but quickly as possible, too,” Harnett said.

In addition to the spaghetti fundraiser, the Boys & Girls Club also is organizing a private supper for the fire victims in an effort to help friends reconnect with each other. Harnett said many have been separated by their new living arrangements.

“It’s sad,” he said. “This was their home.”

Mattson hopes that those who want to will be able to return to that home someday. Demolition work must be done and engineering assessments need to be completed, but Mattson hopes to reproduce what was lost and update whatever is necessary. Demolition could start as early as this week, Mattson said. He hopes to host an open house in less than a year.

“Some residents have already expressed an interest in coming back to what they still consider their home,” Mattson said. “I think we can do that.”

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct date of the Boys & Girls Club’s spaghetti fundraiser.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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