AUGUSTA — An explosion and a fire that erupted in the back of a pickup truck parked near the governor’s mansion Thursday afternoon was quickly extinguished and does not appear to be suspicious, authorities say.

“Based on what investigators have learned so far, there is no evidence or indication of foul play. The owner of the truck has been interviewed,” Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, said in a statement. Investigators from the Fire Marshals Office were on the scene Thursday afternoon trying to determine a cause, she said. No injuries were reported.

Gov. Janet Mills was inside the State House across the street from the residence at the time, participating in a ceremony to honor Maine’s County Teachers of the Year.

“I have spoken with the governor’s office and can confirm the governor was at the State House at the time and was not in any danger,” Moss said.

Moss said that the Augusta Fire Department responded to the fire and explosion on Chamberlain Street, near the Blaine House, around 2:30 p.m. The truck, a  2015 Chevrolet Silverado, was unoccupied at the time and had been parked legally on the street since 7:30 a.m.

A pickup truck parked next to the Blaine House in Augusta erupted in flames Thursday afternoon. Randy Billings/Staff Writer

Several people in the area reported seeing smoke coming from the bed of the pickup before the explosion, Moss said.


The State Fire Marshals’ Office is being assisted in its investigation by the Augusta Fire and Police Departments, the Capital Police Department, and the Maine State Police.

Witnesses heard a loud explosion at about 2:30 p.m. and saw a plume of black smoke as flames engulfed the bed of the pickup, which was parked along Chamberlain Street near the side entrance to the Blaine House. Black smoke drifted over the mansion.

Firefighters arrived within minutes. Augusta police said the fire was out and the scene was being cleared at 3 p.m.

Tiea Hatch, 31, said she was sitting outside with her neighbor when she heard an explosion and saw smoke rising.

“We ran down the road,” said Hatch, who lives a block away. “The smoke just started getting thicker and thicker. It’s so crazy.”

Hatch’s neighbor, Phillip White, 66, also rushed to the Blaine House. He estimated that the flames rose 7 to 8 feet from the truck bed.

“We were just sitting outside talking and we heard an explosion and I said, ‘that sounded serious,’ ” he said. “Then we spotted the plume of black smoke. We had no idea if it was a building, a vehicle, a bomb, or whatever – in today’s world you never know what to expect. … Sadly, in this world, you expect the worst.”

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