Firefighters across the capital area scrambled Wednesday afternoon to battle a pair of blazes that broke out almost simultaneously in Augusta and Gardiner.

Nobody was hurt in either fire, but a single-family home on Old Brunswick Road in Gardiner was destroyed. A fire sparked by a dryer in a third-floor apartment on Eastern Avenue in Augusta caused room and content damage but spared the building itself.

Both fires were reported shortly before 4 p.m. Firefighters in Augusta and Gardiner each called for help only to be told that help was unavailable as firefighters in each community were dealing with a fire of their own.

“We called for Togus and Gardiner, but they couldn’t come,” said Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette, who instead got help from Chelsea, Vassalboro and Winthrop. “We have great mutual aid agreements, so we’re always prepared for that.”

Gardiner Fire Chief Al Nelson said firefighters for Togus, which has mutual aid agreements with both Augusta and Gardiner, heard both calls and, knowing Gardiner was more likely than Augusta to be short handed, decided to head straight for Gardiner.

“He made a great call,” Nelson said.


The worse of the two fires proved to be in Gardiner, where flames destroyed a two-story, single-family home at 297 Old Brunswick Road. Nelson said at least one person lives in the home, but there may be others. Nelson was unsure of the owner’s name, but city tax records indicate Maurice Meservie has owned the home since 1998.

Nobody was there when the fire was reported by a passer-by who noticed the heavy smoke. Nelson said the homeowner believed there was a dog inside, but no animals had been located as crews continued to fight the blaze.

Fire crews from Gardiner, Farmingdale, Randolph, Togus and Pittston responded. Fire was still reaching up through the roof more than an hour after the fire was first reported.

“When we got here they had heavy fire and smoke showing,” Nelson said.

Firefighters were still digging into walls to completely extinguish the fire more than three hours after it was reported. Nelson said the flames had spread in behind knee walls inside the Cape Cod-style home making the flames difficult to douse. The home is crowded with the owner’s personal possessions, which added to the difficulty, Nelson said.

“It’s stubborn,” Nelson said. “It’s just digging to get to it.”


Nelson did not immediately know where or how the fire started. An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office was talking to the homeowner a couple hours after the fire was reported.

Nelson was unsure if the house was insured. He had called the Red Cross to help the owner.

“He’s going to need housing,” Nelson said.

Firefighters in Augusta, meanwhile, responded to the fire in a three-story, three-unit apartment building at 268 Eastern Ave. The fire broke out in a dryer in a third-floor apartment occupied by two adults and a child.

“The tenant who lives there discovered it and called 911,” Audette said.

Audette said heavy smoke was visible outside the building when firefighters arrived. The fire spread to the walls inside the laundry room.


“We were able to contain it to that one room,” Audette said. “If she hadn’t noticed it, it would have been a lot worse.”

A section of Eastern Avenue near Farrington Elementary School was closed for about an hour as crews doused the blaze.

Linda Taylor owns the apartment building, Audette said, but she does not live there. The tenants in the apartment where the fire occurred were forced to relocate for the evening, Audette said, but the building’s other residents were allowed to return to their homes.

“They should be in good shape,” he said.

Audette said Thanksgiving typically kicks off a busy season for firefighters because cooking causes a large number of fires each year.

“Almost every Thanksgiving we’re running all over the place,” he said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @craigcrosby4

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