JAY — A discarded cigarette is being blamed for an afternoon fire Saturday that burned a three-story apartment house at 39 Church St., leaving nine people homeless.

Everyone in the building, including three children, made it out safely, Jay Assistant Fire Chief Mike Booker said.

Firefighters arrived at about 12:30 p.m.

“When we showed up, the whole back of the building was burning,” Booker said. “We had a car parked out back that was burning.”

The building, which appeared to be 50 to 60 years old, was a total loss, he said.

“It started on the back porch on the first floor,” Booker said. “And it spread quickly.”

By 6 p.m., the fire was fully extinguished.

Members of the State Fire Marshal’s office were at the scene Saturday, as was the American Red Cross.

About 60 firefighters from seven towns, including Wilton, Livermore, Livermore Falls, East Dixfield and Farmington assisted in putting out the fire.

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