AUGUSTA — A local man was critically injured Friday morning after a fire started in his apartment at 116 Eastern Ave. officials said.

The man, John Cooper, 61, suffered smoke inhalation and burns. He was rescued by local firefighters who responded to the apartment shortly after midnight.

Responders managed to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the building, according to Battalion Chief John Bennett of the Augusta Fire Department.

Cooper was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center, then transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, said Sgt. Joel Davis of the state fire marshals office. Later in the day, a hospital spokesman said that Cooper was listed in critical condition.

The early morning fire apparently started in the couch of Cooper’s apartment, but state investigators are still trying to determine what sparked it. They may not be able to until they have a chance to speak with Cooper, according to Davis. He did not know the extent of Cooper’s burns.

“He is currently not able to be talked to due to his medical condition,” said Davis. “We don’t know if he was smoking or was using something else, like a candle.”

The four-unit building was not badly damaged by the fire, which was reported around 12:15 a.m. and which firefighters kept from spreading to the rest of the structure.

“It was basically the contents of the room that were on fire,” said Battalion Chief John Bennett of the Augusta Fire Department. “We were able to get there quick enough to eliminate it.”

Several surrounding communities also provided mutual aid to the Augusta Fire Department.

No one else was injured in the fire. Later in the day, a few burn marks were visible on the side of the building and charred debris was lying on the ground behind it.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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