AUBURN — An early morning fire destroyed a vacant multi-unit home Saturday and caused minor damage to neighboring houses.

Officials believe the fire was set.

The Auburn Fire Department received the call around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. When they arrived at 145 Hampshire St., the building was in flames and the fire was starting to approach a house next door. It took firefighters from Auburn, Lewiston and other surrounding towns about four hours to extinguish the fire. By the time they were done, the fire had melted some of the vinyl siding from the neighboring house and caused heat damage to the home behind it. The vacant multi-unit was destroyed.

One firefighter was slightly injured when he fell while fighting the fire. He was treated at a local hospital and released. No one else was hurt.  

The vacant building had no electricity or other utilities. Auburn Battalion Chief Victor Mathieu said the Maine Fire Marshal’s Office investigated and an official believes the fire started outside on a first floor patio. 

“So obviously it’s suspicious,” Mathieu said.

Mathieu said the officials had some “people of interest” in the fire.

Mathieu commended the firefighters who responded, saying the other homes nearby could have been at risk if they hadn’t gotten the fire under control as quickly as they did.

“The guys did a good job,” he said. “It could have been worse.”

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