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Orono apartment fire displaces 21 students, cause still unknown

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
Orono, Old Town and Veazie firefighters compare notes in the aftermath of a fire at Stillwater Village Apartments off College Avenue in Orono Saturday evening, Nov. 19, 2011. A section of College Avenue in front of the apartment complex was closed to traffic for more than two hours as the firefighters contained the fire, which spread from the back basement to the third floor of part of the complex.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — A fire that broke out Saturday night at the Stillwater Village Apartments displaced around 21 students, University of Maine spokesman Joe Carr said Sunday.

The good news is that no students were injured, he said, adding the university is working with the students to get them temporary housing and to replace their school supplies.

The fire was reported at the multi-unit apartment complex at around 6 p.m. Saturday night and spread from the back basement of one of the units to the top floor of the building, Orono fire Lt. Scott Luciano said Saturday at the scene.

Firefighters “found smoke in the building and found fire in the ground floor apartment and it extended to the second and third floors,” Orono fire Lt. Rob St. Louis said Sunday. “The occupants were alerted by the fire alarm system.”

A total of 36 units were evacuated, the lieutenant said.

Firefighters from Orono, Old Town, Bangor and Veazie fought the blaze, which damaged a number of apartments. A section of College Avenue in front of the apartment complex was closed to traffic for more than two hours.

Firefighters were still at the scene after 9:30 p.m. Saturday. What caused the fire was unknown Saturday, Luciano said.

“Two injuries were reported. One firefighter suffered an exertion injury and another hurt his hand,” he said, just after the flames were extinguished.

The Orono fire inspector and police department did an initial investigating into the cause of the blaze, but are asking for help from the experts at the state fire marshal’s office.

“We’re going there tomorrow,” Sgt. Tim York of the state fire marshal’s office said Sunday.

There was another fire at the same apartment complex back in March that reportedly started on a back porch of one unit and spread to the building. That fire displaced 16 students.

The previous fire was not in the same building as the one that occurred Saturday, St. Louis said.

“Student affairs staff and others were at the scene of the fire last night,” Carr said Sunday. “Twenty-one students were displaced and the university‘s focus is to provide those students what they need to continue with their education.”

The displaced students have been offered housing, access to meal plans at the university commons and “we’re working with them to replace textbooks and other vital equipment” such as computers, Carr said.

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