Investigators say they probably never will know the cause of a pair of fires this week that damaged a home in Gardiner and an apartment building in Hallowell.

Nobody was hurt in either blaze, the first of which broke out around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday on Riverview Drive in Gardiner, followed by another reported around 8 p.m. Thursday on Town Farm Road in Hallowell. While the specific cause of the fires is unknown, investigators said neither is suspicious.

The Gardiner fire claimed the lives of two dogs and a cat, but news from the Hallowell fire was much happier. Sam, a 10-year-old beagle pulled from the apartment where the fire started, is recovering well, Hallowell Fire Chief Michael Grant said.

“He was OK,” Grant said.

Firefighters from Hallowell, Augusta, Farmingdale and Manchester responded to reports of Thursday’s fire at a two-story, three-unit apartment building at 138 Town Farm Road. Grant said he feared the building would be lost when he arrived and saw heavy smoke and fire pouring out of the second floor, but a quick response kept the building from being destroyed. He said firefighters from all four towns arrived within 15 minutes of the call.

Grant said the building, which is insured, was undergoing a complete renovation. The process had started in the large first-floor apartment. The fire started in one of two upstairs apartments, both of which were occupied, but damage was limited to the apartment where the fire started, Grant said. The next-door apartment sustained minor smoke damage.


“It was a testament to a good firewall and a quick knockdown,” Grant said. “It was well done.”

The three tenants had either found a new place to live, or were lining up a place, by Friday night. Grant estimated the building, owned by Gary Violette, sustained $60,000 worth of damage, but much of that was to be upgraded anyway as part of the renovation.

“The loss is minimal to the owner,” Grant said.

Sam was pulled from the fire by his owners, who returned home and found a fire in their apartment. They used buckets of water to get to the unconscious pet, who was unresponsive and on his side. Augusta Fire and Rescue, which carries a special mask that allows them to give oxygen to a dog, was able to revive him, Grant said. “Once the dog got the oxygen for a while, he came around,” Grant said. “It’s a successful story all around.”

Investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal were at the apartment Friday trying to determine what had sparked the blaze. Grant said it started in the wall behind the stove and was electrical in nature.

“We’ll never know why it overheated,” he said.


That outcome is the same for Wednesday’s fire in Gardiner. Sgt. Ken Grimes of the fire marshal’s office said the fire, which destroyed the home at 37 Riverview Drive, owned by Andrew and Christine Laverdiere, is not suspicious.

“At this particular time, there’s nothing to indicate it was anything other than accidental,” Grimes said.

No people were hurt in the Gardiner fire, but two dogs and a cat perished in the blaze. Firefighters from several surrounding communities spent hours trying to control the fire in the large Victorian home overlooking the Kennebec River. The home, which was insured, was a total loss. Nobody was home when the fire broke out around 3:15 p.m.

“The fire originated in the kitchen area of the house, but due to the extensive damage, we’re not going to be able to pinpoint the cause,” Grimes said.

Staff writer Betty Adams contributed to this report.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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