HALLOWELL — A fire at a Maple Street apartment building left several tenants homeless and briefly sent Hallowell’s fire chief to the hospital.

No tenants were injured but Fire Chief James Owens was taken by ambulance to MaineGeneral Medical Center to be evaluated. He was treated and released, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Owens, after the fire and after he was released from the hospital, said he was suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion and an ambulance crew on the scene checked him out and found his blood pressure and heart rate to be high, so they took him to MaineGeneral just so he could be checked out.

“I’m fine,” Owens said, adding that was the first time he’s been taken to the hospital from a fire scene.

The home at 27 Maple St. was destroyed by the fire.

A neighbor to the property, Maria Hobbs,  said she was doing yard work with family and saw smoke and then heard a fire alarm going off. Her mom called 911 while Hobbs ran to the home, just as a boy who lived in the apartment building was coming out.

“I tried to get the windows open but I couldn’t, to see if there was anybody else in there, because there’s a little baby that lives there and a lady, and two college kids upstairs,” Hobbs said.

The boy and a friend were the only ones home at the time of the fire, and both escaped the flames, according to Steve Leach, a battalion chief with Augusta Fire, one of several area departments to respond to the blaze.

When firefighters arrived they weren’t sure whether all the occupants of the home were out, especially since there was a car parked in the driveway, so they entered the structure, through an upstairs window, as it burned to see if anyone was inside.

“We went in and did a quick search on the second floor, but were unable to find anybody, so we pulled back out,” Leach said.

The car, which was destroyed in the blaze, belonged to Matt Bernier, who shared the upstairs apartment with his friend, Patrick Ouellette. The pair had only been renting the spot for two months, they said after the fire. Neither of them were home when the fire was discovered, they were at a Baxter Brewing function, where Ouellette works.

Ouellette said they did not have renters insurance. They do not have any pets.

Ouellette’s mother, Lynne Ouellette, of Augusta, said he could move back in with her, and Bernier said he also had a place to stay.

“We’re just glad nobody got hurt, thank God it didn’t happen at night, when everyone would have been sleeping,” Lynne Ouellette said.

A woman who lived in the downstairs apartment declined to comment Saturday.

Owens said the cause of the fire was cooking related, but referred questions about the details of the cause to an investigator from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

He said the fire started in an attached garage and then spread to the interior of the house, gutting it.

“The interior was pretty much gutted, that whole place is going to have to come down,” Owens said.

Hobbs said she also helped a neighbor of a home next to the burning building out of her home, and moved her car out of her garage, out of concern the fire could spread to that home, as well.

All that was left of much of one side of the home was charred wall supports and a roof that was ripped apart by firefighters as they sought to find and extinguish any remaining flames, which took all of Saturday afternoon to extinguish and clean up.

City assessing records indicate the home is owned by Lorraine Elliott, of Palermo. Ouellette said he had not yet been able to reach the owner of the home.

The eight-room home was built in 1900 and had been valued, by the city for tax purposes, at $184,500.

In the midst of fighting the fire a water main at the intersection of Maple and Greenville streets burst, causing water to come up and into the street through a crack in the pavement and a manhole cover and sending water and sediment down the street past the fire scene.

Leach said the broken water main did not hamper efforts to fight the flames. He said firefighters did have to switch to a different hydrant, further down Maple Street, but they had enough water in tanks on trucks to keep the water flowing until their supply line could be switched to the second hydrant.

Firefighters from numerous area depatments responded to the fire, including Augusta, Hallowell, Farmingdale, Togus, Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph, Winthrop and Manchester.

The end of Maple Street was closed to traffic during the fire.

Firefighters used picks to pull apart sections of roof and sprayed both water and foam onto the home. Firefighters reentered the home to fight the fire from inside after they knocked down the flames from outside.

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