AUGUSTA — An electrical fire Tuesday afternoon at an apartment building on State Street displaced four families who will not be allowed to return until the building is not only fixed but also brought into conformity with building and safety codes.
Battalion Chief Jason Farris of the Augusta Fire Department said nobody was injured in the fire at 32 State St., which was sparked by an electrical malfunction in an empty space near the roof.
The third floor of the three-story, five-unit building was damaged by smoke and water and is uninhabitable, Farris said. He estimated that the fire caused $50,000 worth of damage.
“It’s a lot of Sheetrock and water damage,” Farris said.
Crews also found multiple code violations in the building that will need to be corrected before any of the dozen tenants is allowed to return.
“The building has been shut down but turned back over to the owner,” Farris said. City tax records identify the owner as Maine Property Rental LLC.
Farris said some of the tenants were staying with relatives and the Red Cross is assisting others.
The fire was reported around 2:45 p.m. Firefighters arrived to find light smoke showing from the eaves. Crews found one man still in a second-floor apartment and told him to leave, Farris said. The man was able to get out on his own.
Firefighters searched for the source of the smoke and found it in a space near the roof where electrical wire ran.
“Everywhere it touched, the wood, it was charred,” Farris said, adding that there were a number of small fires doused by crews.
Firefighters were able to snuff out the fire quickly and checked to see whether any flames had spread to the surrounding area.
Firefighters from the Togus veterans’ hospital, Gardiner and Winthrop assisted Augusta crews.
Firefighters had to deal with temperatures that soared into the 80s and humidity that made it feel much hotter.
“It was a good aggressive attack,” Farris said. “It was a good team effort.”
The section of State Street was closed until crews left the scene around 5 p.m.