LEWISTON – An office and warehouse burned for hours Sunday on Spring Street, sending roiling black smoke over the city and across the river into Auburn.
Police were planning to secure the site overnight pending an investigation today by fire and police detectives.
Police Lt. Tom Avery said Sunday evening that officials had not ruled the 5:50 p.m. blaze as suspicious. Firefighters were still battling the fire at the former Curran Bean Sprout Co. at 10 p.m. “We really need daylight and the investigators to get in there and see what they find,” Avery said.
Avery said the damage to the commercial building was heavy, but the building was vacant at the time the fire started. He said there were no known injuries from the fire.
An off-duty firefighter was believed to be the first to report the fire, Avery said.
Scores of people from the Spring Street neighborhood near Central Maine Medical Center gathered in groups to watch the fire.
Gray and white smoke filled the air until the fire erupted through the roof and created thick black smoke that contained charred paper and other materials that fell to the ground around the spectators.
Auburn firefighters joined Lewiston while departments from smaller surrounding towns arrived to stand watch in case another fire started somewhere in the Twin Cities. There were nine fire trucks dispatched to the scene, Avery said. Fire officials were still at the fire late Sunday.
Bert Lafrance of nearby Cottage Street said he bought the warehouse and office at 157 Spring St. in 1975. It has since been sold at least twice.
Lafrance said the section of the building that appeared to sustain the worst damage was the oldest part of the structure and made of cinder blocks.
Staff writer Justin Pelletier contributed to this report.