Cause of Orono fire unknown

Posted Feb. 12, 2010, at 11:17 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Officials over the weekend investigated a fast-moving fire that tore through an Orono home Friday night, leaving six tenants homeless. The two-story home, located at the corner of Pleasant and Pine Streets in one of Orono’s older in-town neighborhoods, appeared to be a total loss Saturday morning, with sheets of plywood nailed over its burned-out first-story windows and doors and gaping holes in the charred roofline.

Sgt. Joel Davis of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said Saturday that the fire appeared to have started in a first-story bedroom. A report is likely to be available midweek, he said, after an electrical inspector checks the scene.

The fire was called in at about 7 p.m. and was out by about 11 p.m., with emergency crews from Orono, Old Town, Veazie and the University of Maine responding. Three cats died in the blaze, but none of the tenants and no firefighters were injured.

The construction of the wood-frame house, built in the 1800s, allowed the fire to stay hidden in the walls and move between rooms and floors, said 2nd Lt. Erin Frank of the Orono Fire Department

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The six tenants lost most of their possessions. Frank said firefighters met with some of the tenants Saturday morning to bring items out of the house that might have been salvageable.

Some of the tenants — four of whom are students at the University of Maine — visited the Orono Thrift Shop Saturday morning to replace some items of clothing. The Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the students and the University of Maine has offered them housing and assistance with meals, books and other needs.

It was not known whether the home, owned by Steve and Donna Williams of Portland, was insured.

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