LEWISTON — Firefighters tore up a section of roof at the Lighthouse Inn on outer Lisbon Street on Tuesday afternoon, chasing a smouldering fire that left 25 people temporarily homeless.

The fire was first reported around 1:15 p.m.

Inn owner Martin Finley, watching from the parking lot, blamed a faulty exterior light in a roof overhang in front of room 8. He said he’d taped down a light switch, intending to repair it and keep anyone from trying to use the light in the meantime, when someone apparently peeled the tape back, leading to a spark.

“Someone took the tape off and turned it on,” he said. “I had it taped up real good; I had duct tape all over it.”

Lewiston fire Inspector Paul Oullette said the cause was an electrical short in a socket in front of room 8. He estimated the damage at between $15,000 and $20,000.

All 25 rooms in the long-term stay hotel were full at the time, according to Finley. He believed everyone had safely left.

“Another thing I have to repair,” Finley said as firefighters dug at the roof and sprayed foam skyward from a hole in room 8. “It could have been a lot worse.”

To repair the socket, power was cut to half of the building, to the right of the office, Ouellette said.

Ouellette said that 25 people were left temporarily homeless by the fire and were assisted by the American Red Cross, whose staff was still meeting with the affected people late Tuesday afternoon.

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