Firefighters rescue 2 from fire at Brunswick apartment building

Posted Feb. 17, 2011, at 9:48 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 17, 2011, at 6:01 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A Brunswick man remained in critical condition at Maine Medical Center on Thursday after suffering serious burns over 25 percent to 30 percent of his body during a three-alarm fire on Union Street late Wednesday night.

Brunswick firefighters who went to the fire at an apartment building at 84 Union St. found the seriously burned man lying in a parking lot. Upon arriving, firefighters also rescued two other tenants trapped in a second-floor porch, Brunswick Fire Chief Ken Brillant said today.

The three-alarm fire was reported just before 11 p.m., and eventually drew approximately 50 firefighters from Brunswick, Topsham, Brunswick Naval Air Station, West Bath, Freeport and Bath.

Because fire units were at another call at the time, the first firetruck arrived with just three firefighters, Brillant said. They found a male resident of the building lying in an adjacent parking lot with burns on approximately a third of his body. The man, who also suffered from smoke inhalation, was taken by Brunswick rescue personnel to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was listed in critical condition Thursday morning.

Firefighters initially found that the fire — since confirmed to have started as a cooking fire in a rear first-floor apartment — extended to the second floor, Brillant said, trapping two residents on a porch.

“They got a hose line in place to try to push some of the fire back, and [firefighter] Steve Emmons went up to escort them both down,” Brillant said.

One man was taken to Parkview Adventist Medical Center and a woman went to Mid Coast Hospital, both for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Firefighters were on scene for 2½ to three hours, Brillant said. No injuries were reported among them.

The 12-unit apartment building, which housed 17 people, is “big and old, and has been added on to,” the fire chief said. While the front portion likely will be habitable, Brillant said the rear portion will require major work.

Connie Jones, executive director of the Midcoast Chapter of the American Red Cross, was at the scene just before midnight with four volunteers, working to provide residents of the building with vouchers for stays at local hotels and financial assistance for food, clothing and medications. She said all residents of the building had a place to sleep Wednesday night.

But the residents “were clearly upset,” Jones said. “These people, it seems, none of them have insurance. This is going to be a particularly devastating situation for all of those families.”

During the fire, Doug Rice of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program — located next to the apartment building — opened the hunger prevention program’s doors to provide warmth, and American Red Cross volunteers “basically set up a casework center” there, Jones said.

The volunteers, who “just did an amazing job,” included Linda Blanton and Minnie Vasquez of Harpswell, Judy Hamer of Bath and Andrew Eckman of Bath.

Brillant praised Rice, as well as Brunswick police officers who came with the first firefighters and “were a huge help clearing the building and getting the [burn] victim to the ambulance. Those extra sets of hands were a huge help.”

During the fire, Durham and Lisbon firefighters covered the Brunswick station, Brillant said.

The apartment building is owned by Andanzik LLC of Sebago, according to Brunswick assessing records.

To contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund at the Midcoast Chapter of the American Red Cross, send a check to 16 Community Way, Topsham 04086; or call 729-6779.

See more news from The Times Record.

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