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December 1, 2012

Augusta firefighters return for second fire at Spring Road home in Augusta

Police consider Friday fire suspicious, also question cause of second blaze in less than a day

Staff video by Joe Phelan

AUGUSTA — Firefighters were called back to Spring Road Saturday, for a fire inside a home that had been damaged by a blaze just hours before.

click image to enlarge

The top photo was taken around 1 p.m. Friday after firefighters extinguished a blaze at 283 Spring Road in Augusta. The bottom photo shows the same home this morning as fire marshals investigate after it burned down in a second fire overnight.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Augusta Battalion Chief David Groder said Saturday’s fire, at 283 Spring Road, destroyed the home. The fire was reported shortly after 4 a.m., Saturday, less than day after fire crews were called to the same house for a fire that left the home damaged but intact.

Neither fire caused injury. Nobody was home at the time either fire broke out.

Augusta Police Deputy Chief Jared Mills said investigators from his department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are working to determine how the fire started.

“We’re definitely treating it as suspicious,” Mills said.

Groder said investigators have spoken to the home’s owners, Norman Nelson Jr. and Rebecca Westfall.

Groder said the house was fully engulfed in fire when firefighters arrived on Saturday. Crews from nearby Chelsea and Togus were called to help fight the blaze. Hallowell firefighters responded to calls in the city. While much of the damage from Friday’s fire was invisible from the outside, Saturday’s fire left little standing but the walls and chimney.

“We were able to save the garage,” Groder said. “The fire started melting the siding. The effort was to save as much of the property as we could.”

The last crews did not clear Spring Road until nearly 10 a.m. Police on Saturday morning still had closed Spring Road to cars at the Eastern Avenue end. Another officer guarded the house as investigators worked.

Mills said Augusta Police and fire marshal investigators were unable to determine what sparked Friday’s fire, but it was considered suspicious.“Certainly now that the same place has caught fire it’s just as suspicious, if not more so,” Mills said. “Both times the place was not occupied. Obviously that raises cause for concern.”Firefighters quenched Friday’s blaze in less than 30 minutes, but not before it caused significant damage to the 1 1/2 story home, Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette said at the time. Though there was little visible damage from the outside, there was significant smoke and water damage inside, Audette said.

According to Augusta’s online assessment database, Nelson and Westfall bought the 1,188-square-foot home in 2006.

Groder and Mills expected investigators to spend much of Saturday sifting through the debris trying to determine how the fire started.

“The same place caught fire (twice) in hours,” Mills said. “Obviously, there’s something going on.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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