ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland fire department credits an inspection done last fall with preventing a more serious, and possibly tragic fire on Wednesday evening.
The fire at 25 Suffolk St. was the result of a resident leaving grease heating in a cast iron frying pan to cook french fries. The tenant Thomas Sikorsky went into another room to watch television and lost track of time, according to a news release from the city.
A smoke detector alerted Sikorsky to the fire, which had spread from the stove to shelves above the stove. He was able to extinguish the fire on his own, but he inhaled a significant amount of smoke.
A neighbor in the same building arrived home to hear the smoke alarm and found Sikorsky had not left the smoky apartment. She was able to convince him to go outside and get fresh air while she dialed 911.
Sikorsky declined treatment when an emergency medical services crew arrived but later went to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport to be evaluated for smoke inhalation.
Firefighters searched the building for any signs of fire or smoke outside the first floor unit, and then cleared the smoke and verified there were no remaining hot spots. The State Fire Marshal’s Office sent an investigator, as is customary with any fire that results in someone being treated or seen at a hospital.
The city pointed out that the building had been inspected in October as part of a Rockland ordinance that requires an inspection from the fire department and code enforcement office before a building can be sold.
The inspection found that the apartment had no working smoke alarms, with the one hardwired device having been removed, the city stated in its news release. The owner was required to immediately install temporary battery-powered smoke detectors in all required spaces until code-required hardwired detectors were repaired or installed.
Interim Fire Chief Adam Miceli stated that he is convinced that if the alarm had not activated and the fire been allowed to grow for just one to two more minutes, the results would have been significantly different and very likely tragic, due to the configuration of the apartment and the available combustible fuels.