Members of Crew C at Old Town Fire and Rescue responded to a fire on Sept. 25. Penobscot Times photo

OLD TOWN — Although 11 people were initially displaced by a fire at the multi-unit apartment building at 1144 Stillwater Avenue on Sept. 25, tenants in two units were able to move back in within 24 hours, a fact Old Town Deputy Fire Chief Chris Baker credits to the quick response of Old Town Fire and Rescue’s Crew C.

A fire broke out at the multi-unit apartment complex at 1144 Stillwater Ave. Firefighters cited the misuse of a candle. Penobscot Times photo

“Because we’re here, we’re ready to roll, we’re fast and we’re doing our job, that building is still standing,” Baker said, analyzing the work of the firefighters during an interview on Friday, Oct. 4.

Old Town Fire Rescue’s Crew C, which includes Lt. Sam Weissman, Nic Davis, Matt Webber, Captain John Kokoska, Taylor Haines and J.R. Gray, was the first crew to respond to the fire, which was determined to have been caused by “careless” use of a candle. Three apartment units remained uninhabitable as of Monday, Oct. 7.

The blaze occurred less than a week after fire swept through a block of the downtown on Main Street, destroying one building and causing extensive damage to others. The department’s Crew B was on duty that night, but Crew C responded to the apartment fire with the same level of urgency.

“I think the big thing that we were thinking is we knew it was a large apartment building going into it so we have a lot of safety issues there with people maybe possibly inside,” Webber said.

Webber said what makes the Old Town department unique is each crewmember rotates jobs, giving them versatility for any call. On the day of the Stillwater Ave. apartment fire, he and Gray were working the jump position, running to the scene of the fire and working to put it out.

Capt. Kokoska said what was impressive about the crew’s response was how quickly the fire was put out thanks to the efforts of those two crew members. Webber and Gray pulled the hose line — operated by Davis — up a staircase and crawled under smoke to the fire room. The fire started billowing on the outside of the door causing the paint on the walls to bubble and the door to disintegrate when touched.

Members of Old Town Fire and Rescue’s Crew C. (l-r) Taylor Haines, Matt Webber, Nic Davis, JR Gray, Captain John Kokoska and Lieutenant Sam Weissman. Penobscot Times photo

Capt. Kokoska said had the tenant not shut the door of the room, the whole apartment could have gone up in flames. Webber and Gray extinguished the fire within a minute of getting to it and then extended their efforts to the attic where the fire had spread.

“We [Baker and Kokoska] were both really impressed,” Kokoska said. “We  just got command set up and they had got it out already.”

 


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