CARMEL, Maine — Fire investigators say a faulty electrical outlet caused the fire that displaced two families and their pets from their Route 69 home Thursday night.
A former farmhouse and barn at 40 Hampden Road had been converted into two apartment units, and an outlet in the living space of the barn area failed, Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said Friday.
Investigator Stu Jacobs went to the scene and determined the fire was accidental, he said.
“It’s a malfunction of the electrical outlet,” York said.
Fire crews from more than a half-dozen Penobscot County communities converged on the Carmel residence just after 6 p.m. Thursday to battle the fire in the two-story residence.
The blaze was extinguished, but just after midnight fire crews were called for a return visit, Capt. Leroy Hall, a firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Carmel Fire Department, said Friday.
“It just flared back up between the ceiling and the roof,” he said.
A dozen to 15 firefighters from Carmel, Etna and Levant arrived to knock down the fire for a second time.
“It burned a hole through” the roof, but “that portion was pretty much gone already,” Hall said. “We saved the main house. We saved most of the building.”
Crews cleared the scene for the second time just after 3 a.m. Friday, Hall said.
Carmel Fire Chief Mike Azevedo said late Thursday that the home has an estimated $75,000 or more in damage from the flames. It was not immediately clear whether the building was insured.
No residents were home when the fire broke out, he said. The fire displaced a total of six people, a family of four and a family of two, as well as a pet hamster and a dog.
The Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the displaced families.
The barn area of the two apartment units got the most damage and will need some extensive work to be livable again, Hall said.
The relatively high number of fire victims is putting a strain on the local disaster relief fund of the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross, which on Friday issued an appeal for additional support.
“The Red Cross has provided three nights of emergency shelter in an area hotel to three of the [Carmel] fire victims, as well as assistance for food and clothing destroyed in the fire to all six Mainers,” said Gretchen O’Grady, the chapter’s emergency services director.
According to Executive Director Shannon Flavin Cox, the chapter has dealt with nearly 200 fires, floods and severe storms that affected Maine residents in the past year. “We have spent nearly $100,000, much more than we budgeted for local relief, to assist more than 500 victims in the seven counties of eastern and northern Maine,” she said.
The dollar amount spent on direct disaster assistance, the number of local disasters and the number of Mainers assisted are the largest in the chapter’s 91-year history, she said.
Because the chapter receives no funds from the federal, state or county governments, and no funds from the national office of the American Red Cross, all local disaster relief support comes from individuals, businesses, organizations, cities and towns.
Donations to the Pine Tree Chapter’s Local Disaster Relief Fund can be made by calling the Bangor office at 941-2903, the Ellsworth office at 667-4737, the Rockland office at 594-4576 or the Caribou office at 493-4620. Gifts may be made online at www.pinetree.redcross.org or by mail to 122 Target Industrial Circle, Bangor 04401.