Maine Gov. Paul LePage Tours Lewiston Fire Damage - NECN

Maine Gov. Paul LePage Tours Lewiston Fire Damage



    Nine apartment buildings have been destroyed in the last week, the result of 3 fires (Published Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014)

    (NECN: Amy Sinclair, Lewiston, Maine) - Maine Governor Paul LePage toured the fire-ravaged section of Lewiston Tuesday morning.

    Nine apartment buildings in the city's downtown have been destroyed in the last week, as the result of three fires, two of which are suspected arsons.

    Resident Belinda Anderson said she and her neighbors are so afraid of another arson that they're now sleeping in shifts.

    "We mostly sleep in the daytime and take turns, because everybody's afraid their building is gonna be next," said Anderson.

    More than 180 people have been displaced by the fires.

    The Governor, a Lewiston native, pledged his assistance on Tuesday.

    "Certainly we're gonna look at everything that's available at the state level. I know DHHS is working on it, looking for emergency funding," said the Governor.

    Lewiston Mayor Bob MacDonald said the larger problem is the volume of condemned and vacant buildings downtown that are magnets for fires, both accidental and intentional.

    "The hammer's coming down. We're gonna clean the city up," said MacDonald.

    The Mayor says the first step is to go after absentee landlords. He says the city will also look for state and federal funding to tear down some of the abandoned buildings.

    In addition, Lewiston's police chief says they've already put more police presence, on foot, bike and patrol car into the affected neighborhood.

    Police have charged two 12-year-old boys in connection with the first two fires. Because of that, the city may also look at imposing an earlier curfew.

    Right now, anyone under the age of 18 is supposed to be off the streets by 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.

    Governor LePage offered a few words of comfort, saying Lewiston will get past the fires by remembering its greatest strength, its people.

    "People from Lewiston have always been warm and giving people. That hasn't changed."