Dawna Rosseau and James Dolloff were getting ready to make dinner in their Westbrook apartment Wednesday evening when their 22-month-old son, Thorian, started getting rambunctious.
“Our son was very hyperactive,” Rosseau said.
The couple said they turned off their stove and went for a walk with the toddler.
But when they returned a short time later, fire was already raging from their second-floor apartment.
“I came back and there was smoke barreling” out of their windows, Rosseau said. “They weren’t sure where it started.”
The family is among 45 people who were displaced by the three-alarm fire Wednesday evening at the Dolley Brook Condominium complex on E. Bridge Street in Westbrook. Twenty-four units sustained fire, smoke or water damage, firefighters said Wednesday night. Crews from Portland, Falmouth, Gorham, Scarborough and Windham responded to the blaze.
Rosseau said that the family moved into the unit only three months ago. Now they will have to look again for a new place to live.
“We both have jobs, we have a lot of family who are willing to help, but they don’t have living spaces,” she said.
In the meantime, the American Red Cross of Southern Maine provided a hotel room Wednesday and Thursday night, Rosseau said, until they find permanent shelter.
Red Cross spokesman John Lamb said as of 5 p.m. Thursday, the organization had provided emergency housing for 23 people, including 18 adults and five children, and distributed food to a dozen families.
Rosseau said most of the family’s possessions inside their apartment was destroyed, but firefighters allowed the family to salvage a few items, including their son’s favorite blanket, a few articles of clothing and some undamaged toys for Thorian.
Although Rosseau and Dolloff were told the fire began in their kitchen area, the Westbrook Fire Department has not released information about a specific cause. Westbrook Fire Chief Michael Pardue did not respond to multiple messages left for him Thursday.
The estimated cost of the damage was also unknown Thursday. Eight of the building’s 24 units will have to be totally gutted and rebuilt, said Deb Shangraw, owner of Emerald Management Corp., the company that maintains the properties.
Shangraw said electricians worked throughout the day Thursday to restore power to the 16 units in the building that were still undamaged. She said residents of those units are expected to be allowed back into their homes Friday.