A stream of water shoots across Wilson Stream at The Bass-Wilson Building at 284 Main St. in Wilton as firefighters try to put out a fire Tuesday afternoon. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

WILTON — Elaine Doak was seated at her computer in her house Tuesday when she thought she saw a flash like a lightning bolt outside. An electrical transformer was on fire outside the massive former Bass Shoe manufacturing plant at 284 Main St., now known as The Bass-Wilson Building, she said.

A fire that damaged the Bass-Wilson Building at 284 Main St. in Wilton is under investigation. The massive former shoe manufacturing building houses commercial and nonprofit businesses on the lower levels and apartments on the fourth floor. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

“It kept popping and popping,” Doak said, and the fire spread to the building. She alerted her husband, Tom Doak, deputy Wilton fire chief, and he reported the fire.

“I was shaking so bad. I was scared,” Elaine Doak said. “I watched it travel on the wire. I thought it was lightning.”

She was afraid the fire would travel across to her and husband’s house on Main Street.

About 35 firefighters from Wilton, Chesterville, East Dixfield, Farmington, Jay, Livermore Falls, Mexico, New Sharon and Weld responded to the fire on the fourth-floor of the building, which is listed by the town as owned by Bass-Wilson Properties, care of Cousineau Inc. Randy Cousineau is an owner of the building. The town values the buildings and land at $1.36 million, according to Linda Bureau at the Wilton Town Office.

It was an accidental electrical fire, a situation where a transformer shorted out and went up the outside side of the building and broke through on the fourth floor, Fire Rescue Chief Sonny Dunham said. Three transformers are on unattached poles and a grid goes from there to the building, he said.

“We had to get it from the roof,” he said. But before anything could be done, Central Maine Power Co. had to shut off the power.

Two firefighters climbed the stairs to get a man out who had been sleeping and hadn’t heard the alarm, Dunham said. It was smoky. The man walked out on his own.

“No one was hurt,” he said.

There is a lot of water damage to the third and fourth floors, he said.

A fire that damaged a portion of The Bass-Wilson Building at 284 Main St. on Tuesday in Wilton is under investigation. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

Firefighters were hot in their gear with the temperature outside the building hitting 90 degrees early afternoon. Firefighters could be seen inside the fourth floor and on the roof.

Jay’s pumper truck shot a spray of water at the building and through a couple of windows to put out the fire. The sprinkler system was also going off inside.

There are several apartments on the top floor and commercial and nonprofit businesses and office space, including the restaurant Calzolaio Pasta Co. and Western Maine Behavioral Health, Care & Comfort, and Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice, on the lower levels.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Amanda Smith, who is employed by Western Maine Behavioral Health, was outside the building Tuesday afternoon.

“We just made sure all of our employees evacuated  the building,” she said. Anyone who was off-site was told that they would not be returning to the building today, she said.

Smith had been through a fire in mid-July at her home in Phillips, she said.

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