OAKLAND — Seven people are homeless after fire Thursday ripped through a two-family home on Water Street as firefighters fought the blaze in subzero temperatures.

Greg Hammerbeck, a disabled man who has only one leg and a bad foot, noticed the fire while passing by, rushed to the house, pounded on doors, went in and made sure tenants got out.

“I would want somebody to do the same thing for me,” Hammerbeck, of Oakland, said afterward.

Hammerbeck, who has a prosthetic leg and wears a special boot on the other leg as he recently had surgery, rousted Nathan Carson, 24, from the second floor apartment Carson shared with his parents, Jerry and Lisa Carson. Hammerbeck helped get the family’s 7-year-old black and brown shepherd and husky mix dog, Shadow, out of the apartment.

But their two cats, Mindy, a 1-year-old gray tiger, and Min Min, an 8-year-old white cat with double paws, are believed to have perished in the fire, according to Lisa Carson, 48.

“They went underneath the bed — they’ re gone,” she said. “I’m going to miss them.”

Lisa Carson, who works for Maine-ly Elder Care, said she was heading to work at a home on Summer Street when she got a call that the building was on fire. She hurried home to find it engulfed in flames.

Shivering in the cold and watching smoke pour out of the building Thursday morning, she said the family has no renters’ insurance because they cannot afford it.

“We got nothing,” she said. “We lost everything. This is awful.”

Fire Chief David Coughlin said the fire, reported at 10:14 a.m., appeared to have started on the back side of the house but officials had not determined a cause by late morning. About 35 firefighters from Oakland, Belgrade, Rome, Sidney and Waterville battled the blaze in temperatures that hovered just below zero. By late morning, no injuries or problems with firefighting were reported.

“Other than that (the cold), we’re dealing with it pretty well,” said Coughlin, his eyeglasses frosted over.

The house, built in 1910 and converted to a two-family home, is owned by Scott and Jerrilene Mullen, who raised their children there but did not live in the house. Their son, Scott Mullen Jr., 22, Krysten Hardy, 21, and their children, Alex Hardy, 6, and Easton Mullen, 1, lived on the first floor with the family dog and all were able to get out with help from Hammerbeck.

“Neither (family) has insurance,” Jerrilene Mullen said while watching firefighters work. “They lost everything. Krysten didn’t even have socks on when she left the house.”

Jerrilene Mullen said the building is insured. The owners of Scott & Scottie’s Quality Construction, Jerrilene and Scott Mullen had all of their tools in a small barn next to the house and it also was destroyed by fire.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said. “I’m hoping my tools are covered by the insurance.”

Their daughter, Jessica Mullen, 27, who grew up in the house but now lives in Augusta, rushed to the scene when she learned of the fire.

“You see it happen all the time but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you,” she said, tearing up.

Jessica Mullen said her brother, Scott, works for trailer manufacturer ALCOM in Winslow and Hardy recently started a job in nursing, and “they’re just getting by.”

A steel worker, Nathan Carson said he lost all of his work gear in the fire. His father, Jerry, was in Rome helping his mother-in-law, when the fire broke out. He got a call and drove quickly to Oakland to be with his wife and son.

“I’m unemployed,” Jerry Carson said, adding that he had been laid off from a job installing Direct TV. “There’s no work out there.”

A shaken Carson said he was worried about what will happen to the family dog, Shadow, as it has to take seizure medication every day and if it is not allowed to stay with the family, wherever they are placed, the dog will not survive.

“He will die if he has to go anywhere else without us,” he said.

The house is at the corner of Water and Maple streets and located next door to Oakland Redemption, a business that also caught fire two years ago.

Hammerbeck, a regular customer at the business, said he was a passenger in a neighbor’s vehicle and they were on the way to the redemption center when he saw the fire, told his neighbor to call 911, and went as quickly as he could to the house to notify tenants.

Redemption Center employees Tara Wolman and Tim Hudon ran out of the store and helped Nathan Carson move his Mercury sedan away from the house. The car wouldn’t start, so they put it in neutral and pushed it into a driveway across the street.

Wolman, who called 911 to report the fire, noted that the Oakland Fire Department responded quickly.

“They had an awesome response time,” she said. “They were here within minutes.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17