OXFORD — The Oxford Meadow apartment building fire that killed one woman and injured another Saturday was caused by a faulty electrical outlet, according to investigators.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal said in a news release that an electrical connection to a wall outlet caused the blaze at the Route 26 complex.

“Fire investigators, working with a state electrical inspector, determined that a wire connected to the outlet on an inside wall of the first-floor common area caused a spark which started the fire,” according to the written statement. “A table lamp had been connected to the outlet, and investigators say the fire spread quickly because of a wicker basket near the lamp (that) contained newspapers.” 

The fire marshal’s office and electrical inspectors returned Monday morning to the scene. Officials said the fire started in a common area of the main building and destroyed that room, sending thick smoke throughout the building. 

Maine Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Monday that the condition of Virginia Brown, 65, had been upgraded to “stable.” On Sunday, her condition was considered critical; she was being treated at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway for smoke inhalation.

Eight other residents were saved by breaking and escaping through windows on first and second floors, according to Oxford fire officials.

Theresa Heino, 85, died as a result of the fire at the 40-unit apartment complex.

Richard McCarthy, assistant state fire marshal in the Prevention and Inspection Division, said no sprinklers were installed in the building. The minimum state code for apartment buildings constructed before 1991 didn’t require sprinklers, he said Monday. Oxford Meadow was built in 1984.

Smoke detectors in the complex had been working at the time of the fire, officials said.

Within hours of the outbreak of the fire, a team of more than 20 Red Cross of Maine volunteers and staff established a Family Resource Center at the nearby Inn Town Motel, where displaced residents were provided housing by the apartment complex’s management company, organizer Justin Burkhardt said.

Over the past three days, Red Cross Health Services teams have been ensuring those displaced persons with prescriptions were able to get their medications refilled, and Red Cross Disaster Mental Health responders have been at the motel providing emotional support to those in need during this recovery stage, Burkhardt said.

Red Cross of Maine workers have met or spoken with everyone from the apartment building and are continuing to work with each of them to address their individual needs, Burkhardt said, noting that the organization has provided services to 38 client cases from the building complex.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross worked with the local arm of the Salvation Army to provide meals and Goodwill clothing vouchers to those residents affected by the fire, whether or not they were using the motel as temporary housing.

Monday was expected to be the final day that the Red Cross is stationed at the Inn Town Motel, Burkhardt said, but the organization’s team will be following up with individuals on the phone, as needed. Anyone affected by the fire can call 877-372-7363.

Burkhardt said members of the community are welcome to lend their support by making contributions and/or volunteering with the nonprofit organization by going to www.MaineRedCross.org.


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