Carmel house with multiple apartment units gutted by ‘stubborn’ fire

Posted March 18, 2014, at 11:30 a.m.
Last modified March 18, 2014, at 5:26 p.m.

CARMEL, Maine — A two-and-a-half story house that contained multiple apartment units in Carmel was leveled by fire on Tuesday.

Among the residents that had their units destroyed were the daughter and granddaughter of Wayne Elston, who lives about four miles from the scene in the center of town where Routes 2, 100 and 69 intersect.

“My daughter has been there about six months,” said Elston. He added that his granddaughter moved into his daughter’s unit six days ago.

“Everything in the apartment was brand-new, and now it’s gone,” he said.

The fire, which was reported shortly after 11 a.m., was already spreading through the structure by the time crews arrived.

Firefighters were still attempting to get the blaze under control when Carmel Fire Chief Mike Azevedo addressed the media shortly before 2 p.m.

“We’re going to be here for quite a while,” Azevedo said. “It [was] being stubborn and won’t go out.”

Azevedo said he wasn’t sure how many tenants were living in the building. He added that water supplies were limited due to frozen hydrants.

Billowing smoke could be seen as far as the top of the hill just west of Hermon. Route 2 in Carmel Village was shut down for most of the afternoon Tuesday.

“Unless you have to come this way, I recommend you don’t,” said Azevedo, who didn’t expect the road to reopen until late Tuesday.

The chief added that firefighters also were concerned about the chimney possibly collapsing.

Elston said his family managed to escape the burning structure without injury. No residents or firefighters were hurt.

“[My daughter] called me and said she needed me to come up here,” Elston said.

Firefighters initially could not get to the top of the roof to attack the blaze until a ladder truck from Brewer arrived. Azevedo noted the building’s roof was spongy, so he wasn’t going to risk sending firefighters up there.

“We put enough water in the roof, we just [couldn’t] get in there,” the chief said.

A convenience store across the street from the scene was closed for much of the afternoon.

“I hope to get them open as quickly as we can, so we can get out of their way,” said Azevedo.

While the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, Azevedo said it appeared to have started in the basement of the home.

The state fire marshal was on scene throughout the day and the blaze remains under investigation.

Firefighters from Carmel, Levant, Pittsfield, Newport, Etna, Corinna, Glenburn, Stetson, Newburgh, Hudson, Brewer and Bangor responded.

The American Red Cross plans to assist the fire’s victims.