Unity – A major fire did serious damage to an apartment building at 178 Main Street in Unity on Saturday, February 16. None of the occupants were injured.
Dennis Turner, Unity Fire Chief, said that the fire department received a call about the fire between 10:30 and 11:00 in the morning, and the fire department responded immediately.
Dennis Turner said, “As the day went on, we saw the fire was going to run awhile,” so the Unity Fire Department called for county-wide mutual aid. He said that eleven towns within Waldo County responded with firemen, including Montville, Pittsfield and Albion.
Turner said that a chimney fire is thought to have started in the furnace room of the apartment building. He said that it spread through the barn and into the apartments.
According to Turner, the building was an old house that had been converted into apartments. He said that the partitions “made it very difficult to fight the fire.”
Turner said that when the fire reached the attic, it was difficult for the firemen to fight it because of the insulation in their way.
No one was hurt in the fire, said Turner. He added that the firemen escorted two women out of the building.
According to Turner, the Red Cross has set up housing for the two women.
Turner said that he would like to thank all of the businesses in Unity that provided support to the firemen. “Almost every business in town provided food, cocoa, (or) hot coffee,” he said.
Ted Swanson, Unity resident, said that he became aware of the fire happening down the street from him between ten and eleven o’clock on Saturday. He said that his attention was drawn by the fact that fire trucks began passing.
Swanson said he was a volunteer fireman in Waterville in the 1960s and ‘70s.
He said that when he looked down the street, “There was nothing but a column of black smoke.”
Swanson said, “I haven’t seen so many towns respond (to a fire) since I’ve been here” – over forty years.
Swanson noted that it was “lucky there was no wind,” or the fire might have spread to other buildings.
“It’s kind of unusual to have a structure burn that hard and that fast,” he said. “It seemed like stuff (inside) would kind of explode.”
“A fire like this kind of hits home,” he said. “Things like this don’t happen in a small town that often.”