UPDATE: Oxford Meadow fire: Red Cross aiding victims; Responders lauded as heroes

Another woman was in critical condition, according to a statement from the Maine Department of Public Safety. More than a dozen others were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. About 40 residents were displaced by the fire.

Identities of those affected have not yet been released.

Crews from several towns worked to rescue tenants from their home at Oxford Meadows, located at 1633 Main St. in the town of Oxford.

The blaze was reported at about 2 a.m. Minutes later, local firefighters called for backup and Maine State Police sent troopers to help rescue occupants who may be trapped inside the burning building.

At least two people were reportedly taken out of the building via fire truck ladder. It was not immediately known if those people were among the injured. Other residentes were dragged out of the buiding through first-floor windows by first responders.

Fire marshals said the fire started in a common area and spread thick smoke throughout the building.

By 2:30 a.m., it was reported that active fire had been found in one apartment. It was not immediately clear how far the fire had spread. One occupant who made it out of the building said it was hard to determine the extent of damage through the thickness of smoke.

Fire crews requested school buses to help transport victims and Stephens Memorial Hospital was preparing for critical injuries.

Police shut down a section of Main Street, also known at Route 26, as crews arrived from nearby towns, including Norway, Paris, Mechanic Falls, Poland,  Otisfield, Gray and Greenwood.

Minot sent its cascade water system to the scene to help battle the persistent flames.

By 3 a.m. ambulances had arrived from several towns, including PACE, United from Lewiston and Auburn Rescue.

Emergency agencies opened the nearby Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School to house those displaced by the fire. Blankets were being sent to the school. Meanwhile, at 3:15 a.m. firefighters were still requesting more manpower at the fire scene.

Justin Burkhardt of The Red Cross said Saturday that the organization has set up a family resource center at the Inn Town Motel in room 38.

The apartment complex, a subsidized complex with several two-story structures on the property, is owned by Speedway, Inc. It houses seniors 62 years and older, some with disabilities. It was not clear exactly how many people were living there when the building went up in flames.

Fire marshals are on scene and are looking to pinpoint the cause of the fire.

Former fire chief and current Oxford selectman Scott Hunter praised the efforts of the first responders Saturday morning in a Facebook post.

“I want to extend a heart felt Thank You!! to all the first responders that saved so many lives last night,” Hunter wrote. “Though we may not always save them all, the ones you did save are alive because of your efforts. I am proud of the professionals that protect not only Oxford but the entire area towns. This was a huge joint effort to not only rescue multiple elderly residence but to also contain the fire to a small section of the building. All your training and your dedication paid off last night.

“I know I speak for the whole Board of Selectmen for the Town of Oxford and extend our utmost gratitude to all those involved in last nights fire and our condolences to the families of the lost and injured.”

This story will be updated.

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