May 5, 2013

Boy arrested in latest Lewiston fire

A 12-year-old is the second to be charged with setting a major fire last week near the city’s downtown – and the number of homeless rises.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

In the aftermath of a destructive fire that started Friday night, Lewiston police Officer Nick Wiers, center, guides displaced residents away from the scene on Bartlett Street on Saturday morning. Police said later Saturday that a 12-year-old boy had been arrested and charged with arson in connection with the fires that left more than 100 people homeless. Police did not name the boy.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Early Saturday, firefighters train water toward the blazes that broke out in four buildings on Pierce and Bartlett streets in Lewiston. Fire investigators confirmed the fires started in a garage of a condemned property at 116 Pierce St.

Joel Page/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

Some said they were worried about copycat arsonists.

"I want to get the hell away from here. This could be me," said Pauline Griffin, who lives on Pierce Street.

"Who's going to be next?" asked Tina Mace, who lives at 170 Bartlett St. She said she would like to move away right now. "Everyone wants to leave," added Mace.

Aziza Ali, who lived at 149 Bartlett St., said she was planning to spend Saturday night with a neighbor who lives farther down Bartlett Street. She said she didn't know whether she would be able to sleep because of her nervousness about the possibility of more fires.

HOTELS ARE 'MAXED OUT'

Friday night's blaze was actually the third significant fire in Lewiston last week. In addition to the fire Monday, an apartment house on Lisbon Street caught fire Tuesday. Although the fire damage was contained, the building sustained water damage and about 35 residents were displaced.

The number of residents left homeless by the three fires means hotels in the area are "pretty maxed out," Laurie Levine, a volunteer with the Red Cross, said as she helped about 30 residents settle in on cots in the high school gymnasium early Saturday morning.

Levine said the late-night timing of Friday's fire made it easier for officials to set up a shelter at the high school so victims could get a few hours of rest Saturday morning.

Pat Murtagh, chief executive officer of the Maine Region of the Red Cross, said local businesses have been donating food, clothing and household goods to those affected by the fires. In one example, Lamey Wellehan, a Maine-based shoe chain, donated seven cases of shoes, Murtagh said.

On Saturday, a steady stream of people dropped off food at the high school, and clothing and personal items were made available at the nearby YWCA.

Jennifer Gaylord, branch manger of the American Red Cross, United Valley in Lewiston, said the organization's resources are being stretched thin by the fires. What it really needs right now, she said, is money. She said last year her branch helped 60 people; this year it has helped 400 so far.

"Our financials are based on 60 people," he said.

On Saturday afternoon, the high school gym was bustling with children playing basketball and cards, watching TV and drawing pictures. Volunteers worked with the children to keep them busy while their mothers huddled around tables talking on cellphones and determining their needs with volunteers. Many of the families were expected to spend another night at the high school while the Red Cross tries to find new accommodations.

Gaylord said normally, other landlords step up to volunteer apartments, but that wasn't the case this time, possibly because the fire hit on a weekend.

Staff Writers Matt Byrne and Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Firefighters confer at the scene of a Lewiston fire that destroyed 29 aparments early Saturday.

Joel Page/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Lewiston police Officer Nick Wiers keeps displaced residents away from the scene of a fire Saturday. Many of the newly homeless people were members of Lewiston’s Somali community.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Buildings stand in the aftermath of a massive fire at Bartlett and Pierce streets in Lewiston. Firefighters poured so much water onto the roofs of both buildings on Pierce Street that torrents of water cascaded out windows and doors and into the streets.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Three of the structures were owned by Phyllis St. Laurent, who said she didn't know who owned the condemned building.

Joel Page/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Fire investigators on Saturday morning inspect the rubble at what is believed to be the fire’s origin – the garage of a condemned building – for clues about its origin.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A fire investigator uses a dog to help find clues to a fire on Bartlett and Pierce Streets in Lewiston on Saturday morning.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A Lewiston firefighter guides displaced residents away from the scene of a fire on Bartlett Street in Lewiston on Saturday morning.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The fire broke out late Friday night and kept firefighters at work for hours into Saturday morning.

Joel Page / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

At least 10 communities quickly sent fire crews to aid Lewiston firefighters in the blazes that broke out Friday night.

Joel Page / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Firefighters battle a multi-structure blaze in downtown Lewiston in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Tom Bell / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Nehemiah Chase of the Lisbon Falls Fire Department monitors ladder operations.

Tom Bell / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Firefighters battle a multi-structure blaze in downtown Lewiston in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Tom Bell / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The scene Friday night was surreal as two buildings on Pierce Street and two more on Bartlett Street were ablaze. Smoke could be seen from miles away, and the night was lit in orange and red.

Joel Page/Staff Photographer

  


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)