AUBURN – The vacant Winner Sales Pionite building on Troy Street will be demolished after a Friday morning fire destroyed the aging structure.

State fire investigators say the fire was intentionally set and was started on the north end of the building. The blaze destroyed the roof and the interior walls, leaving just the wall along Troy Street partially standing.

According to Lt. Ray Levesque, the fire was reported around 5:30 a.m. and quickly consumed the building. The power to Rite Aid, Office Max, Smith’s Barber Shop and Beal’s Dry Cleaners was turned off, and Troy, Hampshire and part of Spring streets were closed to allow firefighters to contain the debris. The railroad tracks that cross Hampshire were also closed and will remain closed until the building has been demolished.

The traffic lights along nearby Union Street Bypass were also out, but it was a blown transformer and not the fire that caused the disruption.

The Pionite building, which is now owned by the city, has been vacant for years.

“We’ve been afraid of this for years,” Levesque said, because the building was in such disrepair.

Christopher B. Stanford, of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said investigators used a dog to help sniff out possible chemicals accelerants used to start the fire. Samples collected at the scene were sent to the Maine State Police crime laboratory for further examination.

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