Updated: 4:34 p.m.
A large apartment fire in Orono left 26 people, including 12 University of Maine students, homeless on Tuesday. The apartment contained a total of 18 units and was located in the middle of downtown Orono at the intersection of Bennoch Road and Main Street.
Bennoch Road, Forest Avenue, Main Street and Mill Street were blocked off and caution tape roped off the dangerous area surrounding the burning buildings. Firefighters from Orono, Old Town, Veazie and Bangor extinguished the flames with a large crowd of onlookers.
The fire was officially declared accidental after review by the state fire marshal’s office Thursday. Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, stated the source of the fire began in a wall and was “extremely difficult to detect.”
McCausland gave an overview of the state electrical inspector’s findings: “It was wiring in the first floor outlet that spread from that interior wall to the rest of building from apartment one,” McCausland said. “It’s been declared accidental. It was a major fire and they wanted a state electrical inspector to review the apartment. The building appears to be a total lost.”
According to a news release by McCausland, the fire was the result of an electrical problem in the building and has been ruled as accidental. The release said: “The fire started in an electrical outlet in a wall of a first floor apartment and then spread throughout the building. The cause of the fire came after an electrical inspector viewed the damage today.”
Angel Loredo, Associate Dean of Students at UMaine, said efforts are being made by the university to assist the 12 UMaine students who lived in the apartment building.
“We try to make sure the students are comfortable,” Loredo said. “We offered housing and meals on campus. We called people from the counseling center to help as well.”
The university had an invitatory sale of leftover beds and furniture that was opened up to the students of the fire to take anything they needed free of charge. A Black Bear Exchange account was also opened to help students replace books they lost in the fire.
Joe Carr, Director of University of Maine Relations, said university officials were present at the scene of the fire and that “the process is driven by what the students need”.
Carr said the university is encouraging people to make cash donations to the Red Cross.