A body was recovered Tuesday morning from the scene of a fire that destroyed a Spruce Street apartment building in Rumford. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The body of a woman was recovered from a first-floor apartment Tuesday morning, hours after fire leveled the three-story building at 22 Spruce St. where five or six others escaped, officials said.

Her identity is not being released until family members are notified, Fire Chief Chris Reed said.

Firefighters were aware soon after they arrived that someone had not gotten out of the burning building, he said.

“There was a medical issue there about 90 minutes earlier,” Reed said. “Med-Care was there. She was on the floor. They put her in a chair. Nothing really major medically wrong with her. Then they left.”

One person was on the first floor, two on the second and three or four on the third, he said.

“When we got there, we tried to get accountability of the people of the burning building,” the chief said. “Third floor got out, second floor got out, first floor did not make it out.”

The fire started just before 11 p.m. Monday.

“There was heavy fire conditions when we got there,” the chief said, and part of the building collapsed 10 to 12 minutes after crews arrived.

“There was so much devastation,” he said. “There was heavy (fire) on the number one and number two floors when I got there.”

He said crews tried an attack from the back of the building but were driven out by the heat.

“Our goal from there was to start to protect the buildings to the left and to the right … and get those people out of those buildings,” he said. “Once that was accomplished, we focused hard on the fire, aggressively.”

Firefighters from Rumford, Mexico, Dixfield, Peru and Andover, and the Rapid Intervention Team from Bethel responded. Med-Care was also called.

“An aggressive attack on the fire is what saved the buildings to the right and the left,” he said. Vinyl siding on other buildings melted but there was no structural damage.

Sgt. Ken Grimes, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, was at the scene to determine cause of the blaze.

Reed said the apartment building is owned by someone outside Maine and is managed by Hebert Management Group of Rumford. It was not known Tuesday evening if the building was insured or what its value was.

Reed said there were no concerns with the building prior to the fire.

The Oxford County Emergency Management Agency and the local chapter of the American Red Cross were contacted to provide assistance to those who lost their housing and belongings.

Aubuchon Hardware at 65 Falmouth St. is collecting clothing, household goods, gifts and money for the victims.

Manager Kevin Jamison, who was once the victim of a fire days before Thanksgiving, said many escaped Monday night with only the clothes they were wearing. One family lost all the Christmas gifts for their 8-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. He said he’s compiling a list of furniture needed as well.

Rumford Aubuchon Hardware store manager Kevin Jamison helps Rumford resident Jessica Hamann with donations she brought in Tuesday morning where a collection for the fire victims was being gathered. In addition to some gently used toys and clothes her 6-year-old wanted to donate, she and dozens of others poured into the store with new clothes, toys and supplies. Many donated money. Jamison is no stranger to this situation as he was the victim of fire days before Thanksgiving in the past when the company and community stepped up to help. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Julie Dube of Rumford carries one of several loads of gently used and new items she and her mother and father bought to donate to the victims of Monday night’s fire in Rumford. Her mother carried in several bags with help from Aubuchon store manager Kevin Jamison. After they were finished, Julie’s mom, Celia, asked if they were also collecting money and handed Jamison two $50 bills. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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