1 dead, dozens homeless after 5-alarm fire in Biddeford
BIDDEFORD (WGME) -- Crews will be back on the scene Tuesday of a deadly fire in Biddeford to remove the debris that was once an apartment building on Hill Street.
Around 8:30 a.m. Monday a fire tore through the building, destroying nearly everything in its path, taking the life of an elderly man who didn't make it out of his first floor apartment.
Fire officials say they believe the fire started inside his apartment. At this time, they believe it to be accidental.
Multiple surrounding fire departments responded to the 5-alarm fire.
A wrecker was brought in to tear down the building to search through the debris.
Fire officials say they don't believe they'll be able to determine a cause.
"Because there was a roof collapse then the second floor collapse on top of the first floor where we believe the victim was, we had to bring in heavy equipment to open the building up to look for him. Because of that, we had to open up the building which will deter us from finding the original cause,” Ken Grimes, State Fire Marshal’s Office, said.
Fire officials say the flames were so powerful they busted the windows of nearby buildings.
The fire has displaced at least two dozen people.
Katireana Laverriere lost everything as the fire destroyed her home and damaged nearby buildings.
"I have so much memories and stuff in that room and stuff I can't get back and just it's overwhelming,” Laverriere said.
Falling snow and ash covered an entire area downtown.
Despite firefighters’ best efforts 34 people are without a home.
"I don't even know what I'm going to do I don't have enough money to find my own place yet so I don't know where I'm going to go,” Laverriere said.
Immediately after the fire started, Biddeford's City Hall opened its doors to the Red Cross, using the city offices as a safe place to help those displaced.
"We're going to do whatever we have to do to make sure nobody is standing out in the cold. This is probably one of the toughest days any individual could go through,” Jim Bennett, city manager, said.