Lewiston, Maine Residents on Edge After 3rd Fire in a Week - NECN

Lewiston, Maine Residents on Edge After 3rd Fire in a Week



    Latest fire broke out Monday morning on Bartlett Street; previous 2 fires were allegedly set by 12-year-old boys (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Amy Sinclair) - Maine Governor Paul LePage plans to tour the fire damaged section of Lewiston Tuesday morning, where there have been three major apartment building fires within in seven days, putting many residents on edge.

    "Quite frankly, the hammer's coming down," said Lewiston Mayor Bob MacDonald Monday afternoon. "We're not gonna put up with this anymore."

    The latest fire broke out early Monday morning at 114 and 118 Bartlett St. Neighbors say they watched the fire spread quickly.

    "I woke up to her screaming. My whole bedroom was orange," said Ryan Socci.

    While the Bartlett Street apartment buildings were vacant, the city's Fire Chief, Paul LeClair, said the origin was similar the other two fires - both of which are suspected arsons. They all started outside the buildings.

    "They began on the exteriors, burning in. Once they get into the attics, they spread very quickly and jumped," said LeClair.

    In all, nine apartment buildings in the same downtown neighborhood have been destroyed.

    Lewiston police say each of the first two fires were started by 12-year-old boys, but they don't believe the boys knew each other. Both boys are in custody.

    A team of investigators from the Fire Marshal's Office was on scene Monday afternoon trying to determine what caused the most recent fire.

    With nearly 200 people left homeless, social service agencies say they're struggling to meet the need. The American Red Cross has set up a shelter at Lewiston High School to provide meals and beds.

    On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services will host a housing fair to help displaced city residents locate both temporary and long term housing.

    "You know these people have to replace everything," said Jennifer Gaylord with the Red Cross. "Their medications, their glasses, their hearing aids are all gone."

    The Red Cross says cash donations are needed to help the fire victims begin to rebuild their lives.

    What's needed across the city is peace of mind.

    "I don't want to be down here at all," said Annelise Fernald, who was evacuated from her apartment Monday morning. "I just don't feel safe anymore."

    Residents say they are left wondering whether their building will be next.