WATERVILLE — State and local fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire Wednesday that destroyed at least one room of a three-story apartment building at 48 Silver St. and displaced five people.

About 30 firefighters from Waterville, Winslow and Oakland fought the fire, which was reported at 1:45 p.m.

“Right now it looks like it started on the second floor,” Chief David LaFountain said at the scene. “At least one room and the contents were destroyed. It tried to get to the third floor, but we were able to cut it off. We called the state fire marshal’s office.”

No one was in the building when the fire started, fire officials said. It wasn’t immediately known how many apartments are in the wooden building with a steeplelike dormer, but LaFountain said there at least two. Three of the four people who live on the second floor were at a doctor’s appointment in Portland, and they were accounted for by Wednesday evening, as was a first-floor tenant.

“They left about 20 minutes before the fire started,” said Waterville fire Capt. John Gromek, who is investigating the fire, referring to the second-floor tenants. “We think they were going to a doctor’s appointment.”

Sgt. Ken Grimes and investigators Scott Richardson and Mary-Ann MacMaster, all of the Office of the State Fire Marshal, also went to the scene and were still there after 5 p.m., trying to help determine the cause of the fire, according to LaFountain. He said Waterville police detective Sgt. Bill Bonney and Detective Dave Caron also were investigating.

Central Maine Power Co. has shut power off to the building, which has been deemed uninhabitable.

One firefighter suffered first degree burns on his knees, but he required no medical attention, according to a late-evening news release from Gromek. Five people were displaced in the blaze. The owners of the property are Connie and Clement Warren, he said in the release.

People gathered on Silver Street to watch firefighters fight the blaze in 83-degree weather and high humidity. Black smoke rolled out of second-floor windows as firefighters blasted them with water and smashed windows in the building. Glass shattered and fell to the ground.

Christian Greaves, 20, who was visiting a friend at 53 Silver St., saw smoke and fire coming from 48 Silver St. and headed in that direction.

“My buddy, Harry Reed, he was banging on the windows and stuff,” Greaves said. “He kicked in the front door and went upstairs and made sure nobody was inside. Nobody was inside. I went on the side and kicked the side door toward the back in to make sure there were no pets or people inside. Nobody was home. When I came out, there were police officers around. They were telling people to stay away; the Fire Department was on the way.”

Greaves, who said he is homeless, pointed to the second floor, where the smoke was rolling out of a window.

“I’m guessing that’s where the fire started,” he said. “There were no animals inside — no people. I’m just happy nobody’s inside — no animals, nothing.”

A woman arrived at the scene and said she was the first-floor tenant, but she didn’t want to give her name or comment on the fire.

Fairfield firefighters covered the Waterville fire station, but Fairfield fire Chief Duane Bickford was at the fire scene.

Meanwhile, Jackie Kellenberger, who owns an apartment building next door at 46 Silver St., rushed to the scene after one of her tenants reported her building was on fire. She said she was relieved to discover it was not her building, although the fire damaged her building.

“We just put on siding. It’s already melted,” she said, pointing to her building. “We put all kinds of money into it.”

The building is on the east side of Silver Street, just a few buildings from the entrance to The Concourse.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 


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