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Posted June 27, 2006 EST

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Fire Forces Evacuation Of Portland Apartments
Fire in a second-floor apartment forced the evacuation of all 14 units of a Park Avenue building Monday night. The fire started around 10 p.m., witnesses said. Flames were showing in a window when the first firefighters arrived, said Portland Fire Department Deputy Chief Steve Smith. The crews extinguished most of the fire within 10 minutes using three engines and two ladder trucks, Smith said.

One resident was believed to be in the apartment at the time, but he was not injured, and no other injuries were reported. Three cats and a pet rat apparently died.

Smith said it was too early to speculate on the cause. Fire investigators were on their way to the three-story building at 218 Park Ave. late Monday night.

Landlord Jim Harmon, who has owned the building for 12 years, said he was relieved everyone got out safely. Several of his tenants, along with dozens of onlookers, lined Park Avenue and Weymouth Street, which were blocked off by police and fire trucks. The crowd watched as firefighters made sure the fire was out and checked the safety of other units.

"I could smell the smoke. I had no idea what was going on," said Stephanie Peltier, 19, who lives in the building. "I came out just as the trucks were arriving."

Written by Portland Press Herald

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