The cause of a fire that broke out Sunday night inside an abandoned apartment building on St. John Street in Portland remains under investigation.

Deputy Fire Chief Robert Thompson said it appeared that someone had been living in the building at 175 St. John St.

He described the occupants as squatters.

Thompson said a large contingent of Portland firefighters and equipment responded to reports of a fire at 171 St. John St. around 7:30 p.m. The neighborhood is densely developed with a lot of old tenement buildings.

Fire crews determined that the fire was actually burning on the third floor of a building located behind 171 St. John St. Firefighters worked swiftly to bring the fire under control, but not before it destroyed an apartment unit and the floor under it.

Portland police had to shut down St. John Street, from Valley Street to D Street, for about two hours.

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