LEWISTON —  A house at 151 Grove St. was severely damaged by fire Sunday morning, leaving the owner and his two children temporarily homeless.

Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the Lewiston Fire Department said it started in the area of a kitchen stove and spread upward into the attic. A passerby spotted smoke coming from the roof and called 911. 

The house’s owner, Blydell James, said he left the house around 8:45 a.m. to go shopping. Around 10:30 a.m., he stopped at his girlfriend’s house to visit her. Unable to reach James — he’d left his cell phone at home to charge — someone had notified his girlfriend about the flames.

“She said ‘Call the police. Your house is on fire,'” he said.

By the time James got there, the fire was under control.

Only the family’s dog was home at the time of the fire, and it was not hurt. James’ children had spent the night at a friend’s house and were away.

The fire department estimated the fire caused about $45,000 in damage, with significant fire damage to the attic and smoke, water and fire damage to the first floor, where the home’s bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen are located. The home is insured. 

The fire department said the house is currently not livable. 

Sunday afternoon, James was still trying to decide where to move his family temporarily. While thankful no one was home at the time of the fire, he also wished he had been. 

“If I was here,” he said, “maybe it wouldn’t have reached that far.”

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