Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center in downtown Gardiner is hosting an improv comedy show Friday to raise money for the roughly 30 people displaced by a fire in February at an apartment building on Highland Avenue.

The relief effort already has raised more than $36,000, said Thomas Harnett, Gardiner’s mayor and a member of the volunteer committee coordinating the help.

Deb Files, another committee member from Gardiner, said only two people from the 28-unit apartment building aren’t yet living in permanent housing. A woman has been staying in a nursing home, and her partner has been in a hotel while a permanent living place can be prepared to accommodate her disability, Files said.

The improv show by Mainely Improv is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Johnson Hall. The entire proceeds of the tickets, which cost $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors, will go to the relief fund, Files said.

She said the money raised so far has provided for the basic needs of the people displaced by the fire, including the purchase of beds, other furniture, clothing and household items.

“It was pretty incredible how the community came together and took care of folks and made sure their immediate needs were met,” Files said.

The Feb. 4 fire heavily damaged the south end of the senior apartment building owned by C.B. Mattson, a Farmingdale-based company that manages about 25 family and senior housing buildings throughout the state. No one was injured seriously in the fire, but one woman was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Todd Mattson, an owner of C.B Mattson, said last month that he hoped to rebuild the destroyed portion of the building and repair whatever is needed to reopen the apartment building.

Sgt. Ken Grimes, of the Office of State Fire Marshal, said last month that the fire was accidental and likely caused by a ceiling light malfunctioning.

Files said the money that’s raised is administered by the United Way of Kennebec Valley and so far has come from donations and other fundraising events conducted by community members and local businesses, including one large donation from a person who asked to remain anonymous. The committee coordinating the funds is considering setting up a contingency plan the city can draw from in the future for similar emergencies, she said.

Harnett said the committee is looking to replenish the resources of food and clothing shelters in the area that provided supplies to the victims, who also received donations of furniture and other household items from community members.

He said it’s been remarkable to see the community step up when needed.

“It’s really been a heartwarming thing to see, even though it grew out of a pretty desperate situation and one that affected a lot of people’s lives in a negative way,” Harnett said, “but it was just nice to see the positives that have come out of it.”

People who want to contribute to the relief fund can make a donation on the GoFundMe web page set up for the fund or send checks to the United Way of Kennebec Valley and note that the money is meant for the Highland Avenue fire relief fund.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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