State officials say Bucksport building that caught fire failed inspections

8:09 PM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
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BUCKSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Thursday brought new information about an apartment building in Bucksport that caught fire early last week.

Officials with the Maine State Housing Authority say they found a number of electrical problems at 31 Main Street when they inspected the building earlier this year. The fire which consumed parts of the building on August 25, 2013 displaced about 20 people.

According to town officials, the apartment building was inspected by Bucksport Code Enforcement back in 2003 in response to a number of complaints from residents. Officials say they found smoke detectors in some rooms weren't working during the inspection and doors in the building weren't capable of containing a fire. The apartment building did change owners since that time but at this point its not clear if any of those problems were corrected in the last decade.

Meanwhile the Maine State Housing Authority did its own inspections on the building earlier this year. Specifically officials say they looked at four units inside that were used by tenants in Section 8 housing. Officials say inside those four apartments there were a number of electrical issues that could pose a safety risk. They say some apartments had lightbulb sockets that were missing a lightbulb, there were holes in the wall near electrical outlets and circuit breakers with broken switches.

"Some of the fails were 24 hours fails," said Deborah Turcotte, who is a spokesperson for the Maine State Housing Authority, "which means they needed to be fixed within 24 hours. The landlord would need to tell us the plan to get these fixed and the fails would require...if they were electrical would require an electrician to come in and repair them."

Before the fire broke out last week the housing authority was working to relocate Section 8 residents who lived there. At this point officials say they have found new apartments for those residents.

Fire investigators ruled the cause of last week's fire to be overloaded electrical circuits in an apartment and they say it is tenant related. Who currently owns the apartment is another big question. Town officials in Bucksport say the past landlord passed away and  the building is currently owned by his estate.

NEWS CENTER tried to contact the company managing the property and it referred comment to an attorney for the family. The state fire marshal's office is continuing to investigate this fire with the help of the Hancock County District Attorney's office.


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