BANGOR, Maine - Flames shot over the trees Thursday evening as a Hammond Street apartment building and a nearby office building were destroyed by fire.
Tenants of the 1380 Hammond St. four-unit apartment building, many of them barefoot, stood in the middle of the street behind firetrucks and watched in disbelief as their belongings burned. All of the tenants made it out of the building safely, but a dog may have died in the blaze.
James Nason looked on as fire destroyed 64 years of Perry & Morrill Construction Inc. business plans. Nason owns the business and the apartment building with his two brothers, Richard and Don, under the name JDR LLC. The business’s office was located just behind the apartment building, and while almost everything was destroyed, Nason said a lot of equipment remained on job sites in Dexter, Orono, Bucksport and Lincoln.
"This kind of makes you sick inside," Nason said as he watched the wind whip around black plumes of smoke.
Nason said he spotted the fire around 5:45 p.m. as he was leaving the business to have dinner with his daughter’s family. Flames started on the second-floor porch of the apartment building, Nason said. He said that as he called for help tenants broke windows to alert one another of the flames. After the tenants were out safely, Nason said, he re-entered the office to save computers that contain business files.
"I have two cats and the only thing she worried about was getting the cats," Eric Steward, 26, said as he pointed to his girlfriend. Steward said he also tried to help a neighbor rescue a Rottweiler, but he feared the dog died in the blaze.
All four units in the apartment building were occupied, Nason said, noting that he had just fixed up the apartments and installed a new hot water heater. He confirmed the building was insured.
Nason’s father opened Perry & Morrill Construction Inc. in 1964 on Broad Street, he said. The three brothers took over the business, which is now located on Hammond Street just off Route 2.
Traffic on Route 2 was halted for a couple hours Thursday night as Bangor, Brewer and Hermon fire crews worked to extinguish the flames. Motorists were asked to turn their vehicles around and find an alternative route. Fire officials remained at the scene late Thursday.
"This is not going to stop us from doing our work," Nason said at the scene.