AUGUSTA — In addition to 20 rental properties lost in Augusta because they were deemed unfit for occupation because of serious safety code violations since 2013, there were also 19 rental properties lost — at least temporarily — to fire in that same time period.

Here’s a listing of the 19 buildings that had significant enough fires to force them to be vacated by tenants and the fate of each building:

• 7 Waldo St. Oct. 8, 2013: The Sand Hill apartment building was closed by city officials after they found significant safety code violations, including an unauthorized basement apartment, missing smoke detectors and insufficient exits, during an interior inspection following a fire largely contained in one unit of the building. Ten people, including three children under 10 years old, were displaced, according to city officials. The building is currently being repaired by a new owner who hopes to reopen it to tenants.

• 87 Gage St.: It was repaired, but further details were not available.

• 146 Northern Ave., March 21, 2013: Tenant Stephen B. Cormier, then 57, was indicted on two counts of arson for allegedly setting a fire in his living room which spread to much of the rest of the four-unit apartment building, but later that year was found incompetent to stand trial in a Kennebec County Superior Court hearing. In August 2014, he entered a plea of not criminally responsible for aggravated criminal mischief in connection with the blaze and was placed in the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services and scheduled to be placed at Riverview Psychiatric Center, the state’s forensic hospital. The building was later demolished and the lot cleared. Two other tenants were displaced.

• 55 Sewall St. Jan. 10, 2013: Dozens of firefighters from several area departments spent more than three hours extinguishing a wind-fanned fire in a century-old, three-story, six-unit building across from St. Michael School. The fire displaced 14 tenants, including five children. Authorities said the fire was likely started by careless disposal of smoking materials. The burned building was demolished and replaced with a new apartment building.

• 3 Patterson St.: It was repaired, but further details were not available.

• 10 Fowler St.: It was repaired, but further details were not available.

• 26 Pleasant St., May 26, 2013: Tenant John Murray died, at the age of 62, June 6, 2013, after suffering burns and significant smoke inhalation in a fire that authorities said began in his unit and was related to a stove or toaster oven. Murray was pulled from his first floor apartment by passerby Michael Murphy after he heard the man screaming for help. The owner of the building, Ryan Chamberland, then 42, of Winthrop, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges of failure to provide adequate means of egress and failure to provide adequate secondary means of escape for occupants of the building.

However, authorities said Murray’s death was not caused by the deficiencies, and his first floor unit had two means of egress. The building has since been partially demolished and repaired. Chamberland, as part of an agreement struck in his case, was allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas and have the case dismissed as he successfully complied with conditions of a yearlong deferred disposition. Conditions included making a $1,000 donation to the American Red Cross and abiding by requirements of the Life Safety Code. He was cleared of the charges Dec. 19, 2014. Fourteen tenants were displaced.

• 26 Sewall St., June 22, 2013: A late-night electrical fire forced the evacuation of all tenants in this 17-unit apartment building, though some were allowed to return home the next day. The building has since been repaired.

• 62 Washington St., July 4, 2013: 14 people were forced out of their apartments and four firefighters were treated at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta for heat exhaustion problems suffered as they battled a blaze believed to have been triggered by lightning which struck the six-unit building. The building has been partially demolished and has not been reoccupied.

• 23 Ridge Rd., Aug. 12, 2013: A stove fire caused damage to the kitchen of one unit. Tenants in other units there were evacuated but were able to return to their apartments that night. The damaged unit has since been repaired.

• 1 Penobscot St., Jan. 29, 2013: Fire destroyed a four-unit apartment building and left 13 residents homeless. An investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal said the fire, initially deemed to be of suspicious origin, started in a fourth-floor bedroom. Investigators said they wanted to speak to an unidentified witness believed to have been in the area, but have been unable to identify or find that witness. The fire cause was deemed undetermined. The building was demolished and not replaced.

• 36 Northern Ave., Dec. 5, 2014: A massive blaze reduced this 18-unit, four-story building to little more than a pile of gray ashes, leaving some 27 tenants homeless. Several Augusta police and firefighters were recognized by the city and other organizations for their efforts to help people out of the burning building. Ten tenants were taken to the hospital following the fire, though injuries were reported to be relatively minor. The owner of the building, Yvon Doyon, was praised by officials and tenants for keeping his building up to code and safe. A cause of the fire was never determined. The building was demolished and not replaced.

• 20 State St., Dec. 9, 2014: An early morning fire authorities said was caused by a space heater displaced five residents. The building has not been repaired and remains vacant and boarded up.

• 110 Northern Ave., May 13, 2014: A fire that damaged an already structurally deficient barn forced five people who lived in the attached apartment building to find new homes out of concern the barn could collapse. The city later foreclosed on the property for unpaid taxes and demolished the barn.

• 11 Cedar Court, May 27, 2014: Fire forced all the tenants of an ornate, 1870s five-unit building, including two children, to flee, including one man who escaped by jumping out a window. One of the tenants, David Malia, then 59, told authorities he set the fire in a pile of cardboard and other items in his unit in an attempt to commit suicide. He was found not criminally responsible Aug. 26, 2014, in Kennebec County Superior Court and sent to Riverview Psychiatric Center for treatment. The building was repaired and reoccupied.

• 32 State St., July 22, 2014: A fire sparked by an electrical malfunction displaced four families, totaling a dozen people, from a three-story, five-unit building left uninhabitable by the fire. Authorities said firefighters spotted multiple code violations in the building that would need to be corrected before it could be reoccupied. The building was not repaired and remains closed.

• 23 State St., Aug. 25, 2014: Five tenants were left homeless by a fire authorities believe was caused by an overloaded electrical circuit in the two-family home. The building was demolished and has not been replaced.

• 15 State St., April 3, 2015: All 15 people were displaced by a blaze at the five-unit building, which authorities determined to be caused by one tenant disposing of cigarettes in a plastic bag. A tenant of 13 State St., which is only feet away, was also temporarily displaced from his apartment because authorities were concerned that building could be hit if the damaged 15 State St. building collapsed. 15 State St. was demolished on April 15.

2 Swan St., Aug. 8, 2015: Firefighters said a discarded cigarette sparked a fire that forced all residents to evacuate. The number of residents was not available. The building was later closed by the city’s code enforcement office due to safety code violations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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