MADISON — Nearly a month after a massive fire destroyed multiple apartment units in a building on Main Street, investigators from the Office of State Fire Marshal said the blaze has been classified as an “incendiary fire,” meaning a person was involved in sparking it.

But Sgt. Ken Grimes, of the fire marshal’s office, stopped short of saying the fire was arson and said the investigation is still ongoing. He said “incendiary” opens the possibility of criminal charges resulting from the investigation.

“In this particular case we believe there is a human element involved with the fire,” Grimes said.

The fire occurred around noon Saturday, March 4, at an apartment complex at 152 Main St. The fire destroyed four of the building’s seven units, and about 12 people were living in the building at the time of the fire. Grimes said his office will continue to gather information and conduct interviews. He said it could mean a wide variety of different charges, including arson.

After the investigation, he said, investigators will work with the district attorney’s office in determining any charges.

Earlier this month, a resident of the building, Jenny Norton, described the scene as “quite the fire.”

“I lived in that apartment. The apartment is all burnt now,” Norton said March 21.

She said the fire began in the apartment next to her. Norton said she could smell smoke coming from under the sink. She said she didn’t think much of it, because the tenant next to her smokes; but the smell was different from that of cigarette smoke.

Then the neighbor came knocking on the door, saying there was a fire, she said. About 50 firefighters from departments across the region responded to the blaze, which took over four hours to extinguish.

The day after the blaze, fire marshals reported that the tenant of the unit where the fire began had been smoking cigarettes in his apartment just before reporting the fire. Grimes said he couldn’t go into the details of how they believe the fire was incendiary or who they believed was involved, but he stood by earlier statements about what authorities said happened.

“Any information that has come out previous — as far as any actions on anyone in the building or if the building was occupied or not — would be correct,” he said.

No one was hurt in the fire, but a handful of people, like Norton, escaped with just the clothes on their backs.

Meanwhile, a benefit supper for Norton — organized by her daughter— will be hosted at the Norridgewock Grange hall, also known as the Somerset Grange Hall 18, on Saturday, April 8, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sallie Wilder, master of the Grange hall, said the spaghetti dinner will be to benefit Norton, who used to be a town resident and who raised her family there. The event originally was scheduled to be held at the Community Baptist Church, but the venue was changed to the Grange, located at Main Street and Mercer Road. Wilder said she expected dinners to cost $6, and there may be a raffle and a donation jar as well.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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