WATERVILLE — A disabled woman displaced in an apartment fire Saturday on Front Street says she is thankful and touched by an outpouring of people who have called to ask how they can help her.

Cheryl Jack, 56, has been staying at the Fireside Inn & Suites on Main Street in Waterville since the fire, which started in Apartment 2 on the first floor, beneath her second-floor unit.

Jack’s apartment and all her belongings were damaged by smoke, and the Red Cross put her up in the motel for three nights and gave her an extra night Tuesday, according to Jack’s case manager, Ashley Whittemore, of Cornerstone Behavioral Health, whom Jack authorized to speak for her.

Jack, a former business owner and health care worker, suffers from physical problems as a result of having injured her back 13 years ago while moving a patient. She also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and lives with a lot of anxiety.

Her 5-year-old service cat bit a firefighter while the firefighter was rescuing him and was placed in quarantine at the Waterville Humane Society on Webb Road but a veterinarian confirmed the cat was up-to-date on his shots, so the cat was returned to Jack on Monday.

“I am overwhelmed and just so blessed and so grateful and people have just been calling like crazy,” Jack said Monday afternoon.

Sgt. Ken Grimes of the state fire marshal’s office said Tuesday that the fire’s cause remains undetermined; but he said it started on a mattress in the bedroom of Apartment 2 on the first floor.

Waterville fire Capt. John Gromek said the tenants in that apartment had removed the smoke detector in that unit, but smoke detectors elsewhere in the building were working during the fire. Jack said, however, her own smoke detector did not go off during the fire.

The apartment building at 80 Front St., just down the street from the fire station, is 2 1/2 stories and has six apartments. Gromek said the tenants in the first-floor apartment may not return to the apartment because it is so damaged and needs to be repaired. While the Fire Department released Jack’s apartment back to her, she and Whittemore said it is so damaged by smoke and filled with soot that when they visited it Monday, they were only there about 30 minutes before they had trouble breathing and had to leave.

The owner of the 80 Front St. building is Mark Plummer of Cumberland, according to city assessing records.

Whittemore said because of Jack’s disabilities, she needs a first-floor apartment and they have been searching for one without success.

People have been calling to offer clothes and other items to Jack, and a room at Assistance Plus, at 1604 Benton Ave. in Benton has been set aside for that purpose, according to Whittemore.

Jack said that while she was thankful people called to help, it was difficult for her to speak to them, so she asks that they speak with Whittemore.

“The outpouring of offers has just been so beautiful and such a blessing,” Jack said. Whittemore said anyone with questions may call her work cellphone at 649-7884.

“People have given me clothes and food and care for my cat,” Jack said, “and I am so humbled by how generous people have been.”

 


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