A man and a woman were rescued late Tuesday night after a fire broke out in their apartment building on Brighton Avenue and trapped them inside.

Keith Gautreau, spokesman for the Portland Fire Department, said firefighters responded to a 911 call at 11:23 p.m. When the first truck arrived at 216 Brighton Avenue, a two-story, 8-unit apartment building, a woman was dangling from a window on the second floor. A man was also in the apartment trying to get out.

“There was heavy smoke coming from the first and second floors,” Gautreau said. “We used the ladder to get them both out safely but just as the man was coming down, a window blew out on the first floor. We got them out basically in the nick of time.”

Five other people, including the resident of the 1st-floor apartment where the fire started, had escaped by the time firefighters arrived. The man and woman who were rescued had tried to get out their front door after the fire alarm went off, Gautreau said, but were blocked by heavy smoke.

“They certainly would have been better off to have a second stairwell,” he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Gautreau said investigators are still trying to figure out what was going on inside the apartment before the fire and have been getting conflicting stories. He declined to use the word suspicious but called it a “strange situation.”

The building’s owner, PVA Limited Partnership, owns several other city properties and has been cooperative. Gautreau said the building was equipped with its own alarm system even though it wasn’t required by city code.

All the building’s tenants were assisted by local American Red Cross workers. Gautreau said some were allowed back into the building Wednesday to retrieve clothes and other personal items. He expected most would be able to return for good within a few days.

No one was injured. The fire was contained quickly, Gautreau said, but the building sustained moderate smoke and water damage.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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