Witnesses sought in Pine St. fire

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LEWISTON – Investigators have not declared a Wednesday morning fire at the Bradford House as suspicious, but on Friday they were seeking witnesses to the Fourth of July blaze.

According to a statement released Friday afternoon, police are hoping to learn more about what happened in or around the Pine Street building before it burned.

“Police are requesting that anyone who may have witnessed anything unusual early Wednesday morning in the vicinity of the fire scene to contact them,” according to the news release.

No further information was released about the suspected cause of the fire.

The historic building that housed three law offices sustained roughly $1 million damage after a fire crawled from basement to attic and burned through the roof early Wednesday morning.

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at the rear of the basement at The Bradford House at 54-56 Pine St. shortly before 4:30 a.m., fire officials said.

Firefighters believed they had put out the fire by 5:30 a.m. They had rolled up hoses and some trucks had already returned to quarters when smoke was spotted seeping from the rear wall of the top story about 20 minutes later.

Officials said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, and they haven’t determined whether it’s suspicious. The building was insured.

Three law offices worked out of the building. On the first floor: Cote, Hamann and Fournier; on the second floor, Chris L’Hommedieu and, across the hall, John Whalen.

The fire apparently started in the basement at the rear of the late 1880s-vintage building and burned a small portion of the first floor. Flames later made their way up a pipe chase to the third-floor, which was used as a storage area, according to fire inspector Paul Ouellette.

Smoke filled the attic, followed by flames. Firefighters worked off ladders in an effort to bring the blaze under control. Ladder trucks from Auburn and Lisbon also were on the scene.

The third floor was a total loss, Ouellette said. The second floor was heavily damaged by smoke and water, along with most of the first floor.

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