Electrical Cord Sparked Maine Apartment Building Blaze

Aug. 30, 2013
An extension cord and power strips were feeding electricity to the apartment from other parts of the building.

Aug. 29--BUCKSPORT, Maine -- A light-duty power strip is responsible for igniting a fire that destroyed a Main Street apartment building, according to the local fire chief.

In a prepared statement released Thursday, Bucksport Fire Chief Craig Bowden said an overloaded power strip in Apartment 1 in the building, located at 31 Main St., "created a failure" that led to Sunday's fire. An extension cord and power strips were feeding electricity to the apartment from other parts of the building, he said.

"It has been determined that the power company had shut off the power to that apartment several weeks ago and that the tenants apparently were running power by diverting it through the extension cord from other areas in the building," Bowden wrote in the release. "It is imperative that anyone utilizing extension power cords and power strips use only those rated for the job being performed and on a temporary usage basis only."

More than a dozen tenants have been displaced by the fire, which destroyed the building, officials have said. A firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion, but no one was hurt. Two cats and a dog died in the blaze, and two other cats survived.

"Those [cats] have been taken to the Bucksport Veterinarian's Office and are doing well," Bowden said in the release.

Bowden declined to release the names of any tenants in the building. He has said that the building was insured but that only one of eight occupied units in the building was covered by renter's insurance. Two of the units were vacant at the time of the fire.

"Interviews are ongoing and possible charges will be reviewed with the Hancock County District Attorney's Office before being filed," he wrote in the release.

The Pine Tree Chapter of the Red Cross, Bucksport Community Concerns, the American Legion and other organizations are assisting victims to find suitable housing and to address other needs, Bowden said.

The Bucksport Fire Department has been working with the State Fire Marshal's Office and other state officials to determine the cause of the fire. Local fire officials will continue to work with Investigator Stu Jacobs and Sgt. Tim York of the fire marshal's office and Officer Steve Bishop of the Bucksport Police Department as the investigation continues, the fire chief said.

Copyright 2013 - Bangor Daily News, Maine

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