OLD TOWN, Maine — A malfunctioning laptop is being blamed for the fire that ripped through a three-unit apartment building on Stillwater Avenue late Sunday, fire investigator Sgt. Tim York said Monday.
“The fire started at the laptop and it’s accidental,” he said.
The malfunctioning laptop was in the downstairs apartment’s living room area.
A passer-by reported the fire at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday. No one was home at the time of the blaze, and only two of the three apartment units were occupied, Lt. Matt Redding of the Old Town Fire Department said.
“The downstairs apartment sustained heavy damage, very heavy damage,” he said.
The second floor apartments were smoke damaged, and one bedroom upstairs was damaged by flames that came into the room from an open window, Redding said.
Two pet cats reportedly lived at the apartment house. One cat was found dead in the burned structure, and “we never did find the second one,” the fire lieutenant said.
Traffic along Stillwater, between College Avenue and Spring Street, was diverted for several hours to allow fire crews to do their jobs. Fire and rescue units from Orono, Glenburn and Milford assisted local firefighters at the scene.
When fire crews arrived at the scene, “fire was pushing out the back of the first floor,” Lt. Michael Hildreth of the Old Town Fire Department said Sunday night.
“There was a lot of void spaces between floors,” which allowed the fire to take hold and hide, Redding said. Because of this, crews remained on the scene until after 1 p.m. Monday to watch for hot spots, he said.
Investigator Ed Archer determined the cause of the fire for the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Why the laptop malfunctioned is unknown, York said.
“It could have been an internal malfunction or a battery issue” or another reason, he said.
BDN writer Meg Haskell contributed to this report