Red Cross, community, ‘step up’ to help Limestone victims of suspicious fire

Posted Dec. 09, 2013, at 4:42 p.m.

LIMESTONE, Maine — Residents of a Main Street apartment complex who were displaced by a suspicious fire last Thursday have been able to move back into the dwelling, according to officials at an aid agency providing support to the victims.

A fire investigator said Monday that a “person of interest” has been identified in connection with the fire, but no arrests had yet been made.

Meanwhile, Joyce Knorr, Aroostook County branch manager of the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross, said she learned Monday that the 20 people who were put up by the organization through the weekend in hotel rooms in Caribou no longer needed such services because they were able to move back into their apartments.

“It looks like management really moved quickly to get the smoke and water damaged cleaned up,” said Knorr. “We put them up in motel rooms for four nights and provided food, clothing, medication replacement, infant supplies and emotional assistance, and a number of people offered other apartments that they had available for rent, but it looks like that won’t be necessary.”

The blaze began just before 3:30 a.m. at 23 Main St. and was extinguished by the Limestone-Loring Fire Department after two hours. The exterior of the building was not damaged, but several apartments suffered smoke and water damage. After the fire, some residents were able to return to their apartments to salvage property.

On Monday, Tim Lowell, senior investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said no one had been arrested but that a person of interest in the case had been identified. The fire began in the kitchen of a first-floor apartment, according to Lowell, but he could not disclose an ignition source or say whether the person of interest lived in the apartment complex at this point in the investigation.

The Limestone Police Department assisted at the scene.

Knorr said Monday that the Limestone community “really stepped up” to assist the Red Cross as they tried to help the victims of the fire.

“Some of those people ran out of there just in their night clothes,” she said. “But Mike’s Family Market stepped right up to offer supplies, and the Limestone United Methodist Church provided breakfast, and the police department offered transportation to those that needed it, the fire department did all that they could, people from the Town Office offered to help. It’s a wonderful community.”

Now that the fire victims have been assisted, Knorr said that the County branch of the Red Cross will begin regrouping to assist others who need assistance. She said Monday that an average of 91 cents out of every dollar donated to the Red Cross goes to fulfill its humanitarian mission.

“With winter here, there will be more fires, there will be more need,” she said. “We always need donations.”

Donations can be mailed to American Red Cross, 7 Hatch Drive, Caribou, ME 04736. Make checks payable to American Red Cross and write “Aroostook Disaster Services” in the memo line. Donations can also be made through the organization’s website at www.redcross.org/me.

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