A small fire Thursday afternoon in a fourth-floor dormitory at the Portland branch of the YMCA displaced 31 men who were living there temporarily. No one was injured.

The residents lived in the YMCA’s housing support services program, which includes an 88-bed dormitory known as the GROW (Giving Opportunity for Wellbeing) program, the YMCA said in a statement Thursday night.

The program provides temporary shelter – in one-week increments – for men transitioning from homelessness to stable housing, according to the statement. The fire did not affect the YMCA’s wellness facilities, its youth programs or meeting rooms, and it will be open for business Friday.

“Our community partners, including the Red Cross, are a tremendous support and will be instrumental in helping us meet the immediate needs of those displaced by the fire,” said Helen Brena, CEO of the YMCA of Southern Maine. “Our mission is to build safe, healthy communities and we are committed to ensuring these individuals are supported through the loss of their temporary home and belongings, and that they have a safe, secure place to live.”

Brena said the YMCA staff is working to secure alternative housing for the 31 men as quickly as possible, but she did not say where they would spend Thursday night.

The YMCA is still assessing the extent of the water, smoke and fire damage to determine when the living quarters can again be occupied, she said.


“As far was we know, no injuries were reported, thanks in large part to the rapid response of our first responders and the Y’s staff, as well as our facility’s sprinkler and fire alarm systems,” Brena said.

The YMCA said it has contacted all the people displaced by the fire, but encouraged any GROW resident to contact Branden Parker, director of the GROW program (874-1111), with questions or concerns.

Firefighters went to the YMCA just before 4 p.m., said Assistant Fire Chief Keith Gautreau. There were no initial reports of injuries, and Gautreau said the sprinkler system in the room or rooms where the fire began helped keep it under control.

The cause remains under investigation. In 2017, the YMCA served 154 men through the GROW program.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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