December 18, 2017
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Bangor firefighters save homeless man who started fires in condemned building

By Callie Ferguson
Updated:
Callie Ferguson | BDN
Callie Ferguson | BDN
Bangor firefighters rescued a homeless man from an abandoned building at 472 Essex St. that had filled with smoke from fires he apparently made to stay warm.

Bangor firefighters rescued a homeless man from a condemned building after he started fires in an apparent attempt to stay warm, authorities said.

Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, the fire department received a call from a driver who spotted smoke rising from an old, abandoned house at 472 Essex St., Deputy Chief Anthony Ritano said Thursday.

When rescuers arrived at the house — a once-stately but now dilapidated white building — they rushed to the second floor to find a homeless man sitting in a smoke-filled room, disoriented and sick from inhaling fumes.

The man had made small fires in the building’s two fireplaces, apparently in an attempt to stay warm after the sun had set and temperatures dropped, Ritano said. But the chimneys inside the condemned building were no longer in working condition and they trapped the smoke inside. One of the fires spread to an adjacent wall, but damage was otherwise contained to the fireplaces, Deputy Chief Darrell Cyr added.

Rescuers brought the man, whose identity has not been released, to the nearby St. Joseph’s hospital for treatment, Ritano said. Crews left Essex Street, which was temporarily closed, by 7 p.m.

It is not yet known whether he will face charges. Bangor police didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

People who are homeless in Bangor often seek shelter in abandoned buildings, and Vaughn said he goes around to popular encampments to try and get people into more secure shelters.

“If there’s anywhere you can go, go there,” James Vaughn, of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, said. The city’s emergency shelter beds fill up quickly during the cold months, he added.

The hospital often calls the shelter before discharging a homeless patient, and he’ll wait to see if his phone rings, he said. “I’m worried about who this is,” Vaughn said.

In the meantime, he said he plans to make a trip to the Essex Street house to see if anyone else is seeking shelter there.

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