Fire gutted the house at the corner of Pine and Pleasant streets, across from the library in downtown Orono, on Friday night.
The two-story building at 34 Pine St. housed four female University of Maine students, according to Dean of Students Robert Dana, all of whom have been accounted for.
“The place is a total loss, and the students are being supported, and they will be supported throughout the ordeal,” Dana said.
The fire started around 7 p.m., according to the Orono Fire Department. Firefighters from Orono, Old Town and Veazie fire departments responded, as well as police officers from Orono and Veazie and the University Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
Flames shot out the front of the building until firefighers cut a hole in the roof. The fire spread to the back of the house, but the majority of the damage was to both floors of the front of the house; the rear of the first floor seemed relatively unscathed.
Firefighters worked to contain the blaze until 11 p.m., but one firefighter remained on the scene through the morning.
Joel Davis, who is supervising the state fire marshal’s investigation, said Sunday the fire started in a first-floor bedroom. More details will be available Wednesday following an examination by an electrician, Davis said.
One cat was rescued from the fire, but another appears to be missing. Some of the residents’ belongings were found in the house and retrieved — clothes and shoes laid outside the building Saturday afternoon. The first-floor windows of the building were boarded up with plywood, and daylight could be seen through the walls and roof.
The four-bedroom house contained a working wood stove in the kitchen and an inaccessible fireplace in the living room, a former resident said.
Donna and Steven Williams of Portland own the building. It was built in 1900, Steven Williams said, and the Williams had owned the building for eight years. Donna Williams said the building was insured.
Lt. Scott Luciano of the Orono Fire Department would not evaluate the extent of the damage to the building, but said at the very least the roof would need to be replaced.
Dana said four UMaine staff members were on the scene, assisting the students, who will receive housing, books, clothing and “whatever support they need.”
The fire is the first this academic year, but the the historic Katahdin Building, also in downtown Orono, burnt in June, leaving 12 UMaine students homeless.