WATERVILLE — Several families were displaced Tuesday when an apartment building just south of downtown caught fire and sustained extensive smoke and fire damage.

The call about the fire at 5 Silver Place came in around noon and Waterville fire Chief Shawn Esler said arriving firefighters found that all the tenants in the building at the time had evacuated and were not hurt.

Owner Geoffrey Burr said the building has seven apartments and about 17 people were living there. He said the Red Cross is working to find housing for the families and he was checking to see if there were apartments available elsewhere that people could move into.

Esler said early indications are that the fire started on the first floor of the building, near a back porch, and was largely contained to two apartments.

“The fire department did a good job in this particular case,” Esler said. “The fire was well involved when we arrived on the scene, it had extended to two floors, into two apartments. They did a real good job knocking the bulk of the fire down and containing it to those two units.”

The fire took several hours to fully extinguish, due in part to a gable vent — a type of vent that allows for passive ventilation of an attic space or roof — that was difficult for firefighters to reach.


Joshua Peters was in the apartment he shares with his partner, Emily Raymond, and their two young children when Raymond heard a downstairs smoke alarm go off. He said he’s hard of hearing and didn’t hear the alarm, but when a neighbor started shouting they ran outside.

A porch on the back corner of the building was engulfed in flames, he said. He was thankful that Raymond and the children got out safely, as well as their dog and cat, but he suspected the inside of the apartment was damaged.

“I imagine it’s totaled,” Peters said.

Burr said he didn’t yet have a chance to get inside the building, but it appeared from the outside that four of the seven apartments were total losses and that there seemed to be heavy smoke damage in the front three apartments.

There were several dogs inside the building during the fire, Esler said, but firefighters were able to move the canines to an area of the building that was secure from the fire and they all appeared to be fine.

Firefighters struggled with a fire hydrant that was frozen shut, Esler said, but they were able to use a different hydrant and were later able to use the frozen one as well.

Silver Place is a short dead-end road off Silver Street, so police closed Silver Street to traffic to give firefighters room for trucks and equipment.

Several area fire departments responded to assist, including Fairfield-Benton, Oakland, Skowhegan and Winslow. A Waterville school bus was brought to the scene so that residents of the building could go inside and warm up amid temperatures in the teens.

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