Accidental Freeport fire leaves 6 people homeless

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FREEPORT — The cause of a fire that displaced six residents of a Unity Lane apartment building Saturday is still under investigation, but is considered accidental, Fire Chief Darrel Fournier said Monday. 

Officials from the Fire Department and the state fire marshall’s office planned to investigated the scene of the blaze Monday afternoon.

A family of four lived in the apartment where the fire started, and a mother and son lived in an adjoining unit that was damaged by smoke and water, Fournier said. Neither family had insurance. 

The building is owned by the Freeport Housing Trust. The fire caused $700,000 in damage to the building and $100,0000 to items in it, Fournier estimated.

Investigators determined the fire started in the kitchen on the first floor of 21 Unity Lane and spread into the second floor and attic. A neighbor reported seeing smoke pouring out of the bottom of a door at approximately 11:35 a.m. 

The building had working smoke alarms that alerted the neighbor, Fournier said. To his knowledge, no safety complaints about the building have been filed with the department, but tenants had issues with a fan above a kitchen stove, he added.

The fire’s intense heat blew out windows on the first floor, allowing the fire to rapidly move further up the building, Fournier said. 

There were no injuries reported to people, but a dog, cat and hamster died in the blaze, he said.

“It was challenging for us to fight this fire,” Fournier said, because only four Freeport firefighters were initially available to respond to the fire – a reflection of the problems facing local departments with shrinking pools of volunteers.

Yarmouth, Brunswick, Pownal, Durham, Topsham, and Lisbon Falls provided mutual aid.

The fire flared again in attic insulation around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, forcing firefighters to return, Fournier said. Personnel finally left the scene about three hours later. 

Temporary housing for the two families was provided by Paul Davis Restoration, and Freeport Community Services is giving ongoing help, Fournier said.

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire.

Sidebar Elements

Firefighters dash past a burning apartment building on Unity Lane in Freeport on Saturday evening, Dec. 20. Six tenants were displaced by the blaze, which flared up after firefighters initially extinguished it earlier in the day.

Firefighters tackle a fire on a Unity Lane apartment building Dec. 20 in Freeport.

A firefighter uses an infrared camera to search for hot spots in a Unity Lane apartment building in Freeport on the evening of Dec. 20.