AUGUSTA — State investigators say smoking was the apparent cause of the fire that burned 79 Willow St. on Wednesday.

Sgt. Joel Davis of the state Fire Marshal’s Office said Thursday that the low humidity and winds Wednesday afternoon contributed to the spread of the fire that was first reported around 4 p.m.

“There was low humidity,” Davis said, and there was some wind.

Christopher Norton, who lived on the second floor of the two-story building, said he went into his apartment Thursday to see what could be salvaged.

“It’s not livable,” he said. “My whole ceiling is on the floor.”

Now, he said he’s looking for somewhere else to live.

In an interview with the Kennebec Journal on Wednesday, Norton said he thought the fire started because of a cigarette that was not extinguished properly.

He said the smoke alarm woke him up, and he found the door to his deck engulfed in flames.

Fire crews from Augusta and surrounded towns worked to knock down the fire that apparently started outside the deck door of the second-floor apartment. By the time they arrived, the fire had spread into the attic and onto the roof of a nearby building and was threatening a third building.

To fight the fire, crews used deck guns and larger hoses. To gain access to the attic, they had to cut a hole in the ceiling of Norton’s apartment.

Damage from the fire is evident on the outside of the building, and the heat of the fire melted some of the siding.

Both Norton and his downstairs neighbor were able to get out safely. Norton was able to grab his phone, but he wasn’t wearing shoes.

Norton said nothing is salvageable from the apartment.

“I don’t care about my stuff, but I lost all my son’s stuff — a brand new crib still in the box, a mattress, a bassinet. It’s all gone,” he said.

On Wednesday night, disaster responders from the American Red Cross were able to get in touch with Norton.

“They were able to get me some clothes and shoes,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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