September 29, 2013

Burned Waterville building to be demolished

The Main Street apartment building is considered a total loss and a danger after a fire on May 3.

By AMY CALDER Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Building owner John Weeks stands in front of the apartment building on Main Street in Waterville that was destroyed by fire last May. Weeks says he plans to raze the structure and possibly build another at the site.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

He said Weeks has been cooperative with him and the only issue with the burned building is aesthetic.

"Obviously, we'd like our neighborhood to be as good-looking as it possibly can be," Giguere said. "It's going to be nice when the building gets taken out -- for all of Main Street."

EYESORE AND DANGER

Buildings damaged to this degree ought to be removed, according to Fire Chief David LaFountain.

"Besides being an eyesore, there's a level of danger there," he said. "The sooner it comes down, the better."

After the fire, the City Council launched a committee to look at sprinkler systems downtown, inspection records and other safety-related issues.

The council on Sept. 3 voted to authorize LaFountain to enforce national fire safety codes downtown. Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, said at the time that when the fire occurred, nobody was designated as a person who had the authority to enforce codes already in place.

Downtown business owners who attended the Sept. 3 meeting asked whether buildings that have never had sprinkler systems would now be required to have them. The cost to do so would be prohibitive, they said.

LaFountain said his department does regular fire safety inspections downtown and works with building owners to help them comply with codes. He sought to assure building owners that if they have had inspections from the Fire Department and were found to be in compliance, they should not worry.

The discussion was the result of concerns about the fire at Weeks' building. LaFountain said Weeks turned off the sprinkler system in 2005 and it was understood he would turn it back on if he had people living in the building, but that did not occur.

A MATTER OF SURVIVAL

Weeks said that several years ago he renovated the second floor of the building and had to remove about a third of the sprinkler system in order to do the work. At the time, he didn't plan to have people living in the building, he said.

He said he hired a person who needed a place to live and he offered him one of the apartments, not knowing he was violating code.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

acalder@mainetoday.com

 

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