WATERVILLE — The fire that forced the evacuation of an apartment building Thursday on Silver Street was caused by a space heater that ignited items stored nearby, a fire investigator said Friday.

Four people and their pets were forced to leave the building after the fire broke out around 5 p.m. Thursday in a first-floor apartment at 58 Silver St..

“It was accidental in nature. It was a space heater that was left on,” Waterville firefighter Ryan Johnston said. “It was just too close to a bunch of flammable stuff — clothing, books and papers.”

Johnston said the resident of the apartment where the fire started was not at home at the time of the fire.

Firefighters at the scene were initially concerned about the first-floor tenant after hearing that she uses a wheelchair. However, that woman had been hospitalized a few days ago and was not at home.

The fire brought crews from Waterville, Winslow and Fairfield, and was out with in 20 minutes. The American Red Cross helped the four people who had been living in the building find a place to stay.

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