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Despite deadly explosion, Keystone Management called ‘one of the better management companies’

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A car sits near the remains of a duplex on Bluff Road in Bath on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, where a propane leak and explosion killed Dale Ann Fussell, 64, Tuesday morning.
By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff

BATH, Maine — Keystone Management Co. Inc., the company that manages the Hyde Park neighborhood where a duplex exploded early Tuesday morning, killing a 64-year-old woman, has an exemplary record of addressing any code issues, officials in several communities, including Bath, said Thursday.

Early Tuesday morning, a duplex on Bluff Road exploded, killing Dale Ann Fussell, who lived in one of the apartments in the duplex, and injuring four others. A leak in a propane line caused the explosion, the state fire marshal’s office determined Wednesday.

But Scott Davis, Bath’s code enforcement officer, said Thursday that Keystone’s local manager, Danielle Pinette, is “very responsive” to any problems in the neighborhood.

“For the amount of units they have out there, they have very few issues,” Davis said. “Every now and then, there’s a complaint from a tenant about trash piled up, and Danielle is very responsive. They’re very good to work with. For the number of units they have, they probably have fewer than the average issues, if you actually do the math.”

Bath Fire Chief Stephen Hinds said Keystone is always on scene anytime his department responds to any type of call at Hyde Park, whether a fire or occasional calls about fumes.

But he noted, “To my knowledge, we have never been to that home for an odor call — where anyone from there has phoned with a complaint of fumes.”

Based in Concord, N.H., Keystone manages 107 residential and commercial properties in Maine, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

In Bath, the company manages only the Hyde Park neighborhood, known as Atlantic Townhouse Apartments. In Bangor, Keystone manages a mobile home park and two apartment complexes. It also manages properties in Augusta, Waterville and six other communities in the state.

“I’d say that they’re one of the better management companies out there,” Rob Overton, a code enforcement officer in Augusta, said Thursday. “It’s very rare that we receive any calls from a tenant of theirs requesting an inspection because the tenant feels they aren’t living up to their end of things.”

“I have absolutely no problem working with them, and they’ve always been very cooperative,” said Lisa Salvatore, housing inspector in Concord, where Keystone manages 39 properties including multiunit residential buildings. “I don’t have any outstanding issues at all with Keystone, and any time we have a complaint that turns out to be viable, I call Keystone and in a matter of, quite often, hours, it’s fixed.”

Although the state fire marshal’s office determined a leak in a gas line caused the explosion, inspections of every gas and propane line overnight Wednesday by Bath firefighters and representatives of Keystone and Irving Oil found “nothing of consequence,” Hinds said.

The fire chief said he understands the tendency of some to want to place blame for the explosion.

“People are extremely nervous and on edge” he said. “They’ve just had a neighbor succumb to an explosion. The world is wrong right now, and I understand it fully.”

But he said he has never had trouble with Keystone.

“We go to Hyde Park for fires, rescue, alarm soundings for dead batteries and of all those calls, [and] we’ve never had a problem with the Keystone folks,” he continued.

A call Thursday morning to Keystone was not immediately returned.

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