Most Washburn residents back in their homes following fire

Posted Aug. 09, 2013, at 6:50 p.m.

WASHBURN, Maine — As of late Friday afternoon, all but two tenants in the housing complex for the elderly and disabled that was struck by lightning on Sunday were moved back into their apartments.

“The tenants are all very happy to be back in their homes,” Shelly O’Rourke, office manager at C.S. Management of Caribou, the building’s owner, said by phone Friday afternoon.

The 24-unit building was damaged by fire that started in the attic in the central portion of the building near one of the common rooms, O’Rourke said.

According to Washburn Fire Chief Tony Heald, the fire was sparked by the lightning strike.

A majority of damage was confined to that front area of the structure leaving most of the apartments with minor smoke and water damage, O’Rourke said earlier this week.

The two units receiving the most damage, she said on Friday, will need new sheetrock, carpeting and flooring before tenants may move back in.

In addition, repairs remain ongoing in the laundry room and two common areas, which sustained water damage.

“That work will probably take a couple of months,” she said. “But at least we have the tenants back in.”

Power was cut to the building for a period of time immediately after the fire and residents lost perishable items they had in their refrigerators, O’Rourke said. To help them recoup some of those losses, she said the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has offered residents extra food stamps.

“The residents can contact DHHS to make those arrangements,” she said.

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