WATERVILLE, Maine — A vacant house on Lower Water Street was damaged by fire Monday afternoon, but officials said it could’ve been worse.

Waterville Fire Chief David LaFountain said employees from the city’s sewer district were heading back to their headquarters just before 2 p.m. when they saw smoke and flames coming from the back of the two-story house.

The employees stopped and controlled the blaze with an extinguisher before firefighters arrived and finished the job, LaFountain said.

The chief said if it hadn’t been for the quick response, the fire would’ve likely spread from the rear of the house to the basement.

“It would’ve been a lot worse but as it was, there was damage to the back of the house,” LaFountain said. “There’s an exterior stairway that goes down to the basement, so we’re lucky.”

LaFountain said firefighters found multiple cigarettes and oil-stained rags in the house, and pointed to them as likely causes. He said he has not heard from the house’s owner, although town records indicate the house belongs to somebody from Florida.

Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective...