Broken belt sends smoke into buildings

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RUMFORD – About a dozen people were evacuated or moved from downtown buildings about noon on Wednesday when smoke began to fill their offices.

Rumford deputy fire Chief Richard Coulombe said the belt that drives an air handling unit had broken and started to smoke. The smoke was pushed into the Social Security office on Canal Street as well as into a section of the Beacon House. People from both offices were evacuated. Several tenants living on the second floor of the connected Muskie Building were also moved to another section of the building as a precaution.

Coulombe said everyone was back inside within an hour. He said building maintenance personnel were repairing the air handler Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters removed the smoke with a fan. No one was injured and no damage resulted.

Six Rumford firefighters and three trucks, along with several Mexico firefighters and a truck responded to the incident.

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