AUBURN — Tenants who lived at apartments at a Northern Avenue building were relocated Friday after fire swept through the attic, fire officials said.

The blaze started on the porch of the third floor at 37 Northern Ave. Heights, Fire Investigator David O’Connell said. Tenants used a plastic container that was next to a bag of trash to extinguish cigarettes. The fire likely was accidental, he said.

The fire worked its way into the building’s attic, making its way into a sidewall. Firewalls had been built into the attic, slowing the fire’s progress, O’Connell said. Firefighters cut a hole in the roof over the middle section and had access to the outside sections through an opening in the ceiling.

Fire, smoke and water damage was estimated at more than $100,000 for the 26-year-old building. The 24-unit building was insured, but none of the tenants had renters insurance.

Electrical and gas service were shut off to the building and likely won’t be restored until the middle of next week at the earliest, O’Connell said.

The American Red Cross of Maine provided emergency shelter, food and clothing for roughly 25 displaced tenants. The nonprofit group also provides emotional support.

The blaze was called in shortly before 6:30 a.m. by a tenant in a building across the way, O’Connell said.

No injuries to tenants nor firefighters were reported.

Lewiston firefighters responded to the scene for mutual aid, helping local firefighters to battle the fire, which was brought under control within an hour.

“They did an amazing job stopping the fire,” O’Connell said.

If confirmed that smoking materials caused the fire, this will mark the same cause for the third time this year in the city, O’Connell said. There were eight fires caused by smoking materials last year, he said.

“People need to make sure their smoking materials are extinguished” and disposed of properly in a metal or other nonflammable container, he said.


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