The fire that heavily damaged an apartment building in Gardiner on Tuesday morning started when a power strip on the building’s first floor overheated, Sgt. Joel Davis of the state fire marshal’s office said on Wednesday.

The fire spread up the wall of the building, leaving heavy smoke damage and rendering the building uninhabitable for the time being, Davis said.

No one was injured in the fire that was reported at 33 Spring St. around 10:12 a.m. on Tuesday, but the damage has left about eight people homeless.

“It’s a terrible loss,” said Sharon Geroux, one of the building’s co-owners, later Tuesday morning. Choking up, she continued, “The building was not even the biggest loss. My cat’s dead, I’m sure. I couldn’t get her out of there. There was so much smoke.”

Geroux and some of the building’s other residents had suspected an electrical malfunction caused the fire, in part because Geroux’s 80-year-old mother, Janice Brown, was watching television before it started and heard a loud popping noise.

According to Davis, that television was plugged into the power strip that overheated, leading to the fire.

The power strip “was too insulated,” Davis said. “The heat couldn’t dissipate. (The fire) went up the wall and destroyed that room. It also did smoke and heat damage to the second floor.”

Davis didn’t know if the house will be habitable again and said that decision would probably fall to company that had insured it.

The building included four apartment units, three of which were inhabited by Geroux and her extended family members. The fourth was inhabited by a younger couple and their daughter. Geroux also operated a hair salon out of the building.

On Tuesday, the Red Cross announced it was helping the people displaced by the fire.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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