Hair dryer caused fire that displaced 23 UMaine students

Orono, Old Town and Veazie firefighters gather near a ladder truck in the aftermath of a fire at Stillwater Village Apartments off College Avenue in Orono Saturday evening, Nov 19, 2011.
Orono, Old Town and Veazie firefighters gather near a ladder truck in the aftermath of a fire at Stillwater Village Apartments off College Avenue in Orono Saturday evening, Nov 19, 2011.
Posted Nov. 21, 2011, at 6:13 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 21, 2011, at 6:52 p.m.
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.
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. Buy Photo

ORONO, Maine — A hair dryer malfunction in a first-floor bedroom set off the blaze at Stillwater Village Apartments Saturday night that displaced 23 University of Maine students, according to Lt. Tim York of the state fire marshal’s office.

What exactly caused the malfunction isn’t known, but investigators deemed the fire accidental, York said.

“There’s not a whole lot left to look at,” York said Monday evening after the investigation, “but it’s clear where it originated.”

All students have been moved to new apartments, dorms or made other living arrangements, UMaine spokesman Joe Carr said Monday.

Nine students moved to Aroostook Hall and 13 others moved in with family members or friends in the area, Carr said. A displaced graduate student moved to Doris Twitchell Allen Village, a set of apartment-style suites on campus, along with his wife and young child.

Because of a miscommunication, the number of students who had to relocate was two higher than the number reported over the weekend, Carr said.

No students were injured in the fire, according to Carr, though most of them were home when the fire broke out. Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

They escaped after the fire alarm alerted them, Orono fire Lt. Rob St. Louis said Sunday.

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

In all, 36 units at the complex were evacuated.

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.

Students who chose to move into on-campus residences will be allowed to stay at no cost until Tuesday, Nov. 29. After that, they will have to make new living arrangements or pay fees to live on campus, according to Carr.

The university is working to replace students’ school supplies, such as textbooks and computers, and will offer meal plans to feed them during their transition, Carr said.

The American Red Cross has stepped in to provide clothing and other essentials to those who lost possessions in the fire.

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