AUBURN — A 2½-story apartment house went up in flames on Gamage Avenue Wednesday, and fire investigators say the blaze is suspicious.
Witnesses reported seeing flames shooting from the second floor of the building at about 3:30 p.m. Crews quickly knocked down the fire and kept flames from leaping to nearby homes.
Firefighters then searched each floor of the abandoned house, making sure no one was inside the gutted building. No one was found. Police said the building has been vacant for at least a year. It is currently owned by a local bank.
The burned building, at 9 Gamage Ave., is between the ends of Hampshire and Dennison streets and across from Western Promenade.
Firefighters who first arrived at the scene sounded a second alarm, bringing assistance from departments in nearby cities and towns.
As they battled the flames, crowds gathered on front lawns and snow-covered sidewalks. In the distance behind the burning building, kids slid down the hills at Pettengill Park.
Firefighters fought the blaze from the ground and from ladders, cutting through the roof to release smoke. The Public Works Department was notified that the streets around the building were likely to become icy because of the amount of water dumped on the fire.
An Auburn police detective interviewed witnesses as the investigation got under way.
Later Wednesday, fire officials deemed the blaze suspicious and said the investigation was ongoing. The fire was said to be of "human origin" though the exact cause was not released.
In late December, a fire at the former Morin Fine Furniture was found to have been caused by a group of homeless people trying to keep warm inside the vacant warehouse.