January 21

Portland man wakes up amid fire, barely escapes

Everyone gets out of the apartment house on Irving Street, but the Victorian-era building shows major damage.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Joe Aceto said everything he owns is inside the burned building. Aceto ran out of the house and kicked in the front door.

David Hench/Staff Writer

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A firefighter battles a fire in an apartment house at 84 Irving St. in Portland Sunday night.

Amelia Kunhardt/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

“I got in five to eight feet and I couldn’t breathe, it spread so quick,” he said. Moores managed to get out the front door.

Aceto said he had lived in the house for a couple of months and had no renter’s insurance. His most immediate concern on Monday was to find a partial denture that he left behind.

“Everything I own is in there – which is not much,” he added wryly. He did, however, have a new laptop computer that he hoped had been rescued, he said.

The investigation into the cause continues, but Moores believes it was electrical, given the age of the building’s wiring system. The room where the residents believe the fire started had no electricity but was served by a tangle of extension cords, Moores said.

The Red Cross will provide lodging at the Super 8 motel for three days while the displaced residents make other arrangements.

The city has a policy of inspecting multi-family dwellings once a year, LaMoria said, but he was unable to say when the building was last inspected by a fire company. City Hall and the department’s administrative offices were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

It’s unclear whether the inspection requirement would apply to 84 Irving St.

A multi-family dwelling is defined in the city codes covering fire regulations as three units or more.

The house at 84 Irving St. is listed as a two-family building on the city’s assessment records.

Aceto said he was renting an apartment but Foster was also renting rooms to the other two men.

Besides the fire, there were other mishaps Sunday night, Moores said.

As he and Foster stood watching the flames, a woman moving her car for the fire engines backed into Foster, Moores said. Luckily, he was not injured, he said.

Moores, who was in his stocking feet and wearing only his work uniform, sought shelter in a police cruiser. The officer asked his name, ran it through the computer and found that Moores has a warrant for failing to pay a 2010 fine for operating a vehicle after suspension, he said.

The officer’s supervisor considered whether to let him off with a court summons, and asked whether Moores had a fixed address. Seeing the burning building, the officer said, ‘No.’ The supervisor ordered him taken to the county jail, where Moores got someone to post bail.

But Moores isn’t bitter. His employer, Cumberland Farms, has been supportive. One of his regular customers at the Washington Avenue convenience store also heard about the fire and left him $100 in an envelope.

“I broke down into tears,” he said.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:


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Additional Photos

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The building that once housed the owner and three renters sits in ruins Monday. Two guests also escaped the blaze.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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A Portland firefighter works atop a ladder to douse flames at an apartment at 84 Irving Street in Portland on Sunday night.


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