RUMFORD, Maine (AP) — A fast-moving fire swept through three apartment buildings and forced people to jump from windows to save themselves, officials said Monday. Six people were hospitalized.
The fire started late Sunday in one apartment building and spread to two others, one of which was unoccupied. Three people jumped from the second and third floors of one of the buildings after being trapped by fire and smoke, officials said.
“That was their only option. There was no escape other than to jump,” Rumford Fire Chief Chris Reed said Monday.
The six who were hospitalized were being treated for smoke inhalation and injuries related to jumping. The three who jumped were critically injured, said Town Manager Stacy Carter.
Police Chief Tony Milligan credited two officers with helping to speed the evacuation and prevent fatalities.
The fire started in one building and quickly jumped to two adjoining structures in the town’s downtown.
Carter said he knew from a distance that it was bad.
“From five blocks away, there was a lot of fire. The sky was glowing orange. It was fully involved,” he said.
By daybreak, all that was left was rubble. Two of the three buildings collapsed. The other building, where the fire started, was brought down by firefighters because it was unsafe.
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were at the scene to determine the cause of the blaze. The Red Cross also was there to help people who were displaced.