The call came in around noon Sunday that a lightning strike had caused a fire at the Washburn Estates living facility. Several neighbors at a nearby apartment complex rushed next door to lend a hand.
“We heard the boom, then my daughter ran up and told us the old folks home was on fire and we and some of our neighbors just instantly ran over and started banging on doors, getting people out.”
Another of the neighbors describes what it was like in the building when they got there.
“ Smoky, It was really smoky and it burned eyes, burned your throat, everything.”
Residents say they heard the loud boom but didn’t realize something was up until they saw or smelled the smoke.
“A neighbor had stopped in just moments before and the lightning hit and she said, “Oh, I think that hit somewhere close by.” Well, yeah. On the roof of our building.”
Lori Walker is also a resident there but she was at church at the time and received a text message that her building was on fire. Now she has to figure out where to go from here.
“We’re all going to work together and we’re okay and we’re going to fight this.”
The property is owned by C.S. Management. The owner and her staff were on hand collecting information from each resident, finding out what medications were needed. The Washburn community also quickly stepped up to offer assistance.
“As soon as we found out that the people needed a place to go and be dry and to get the help they’re getting, we just ran down and grabbed snacks, drinks and opened up the clubhouse and just let them use our facility.”
There were no injuries and all the pets in the building were able to make it out okay. Washburn Fire received mutual aid from the Presque Isle, Caribou and Mapleton fire departments. A spokesman for C.S. Management says they were in hopes of learning when residents could return to the facility sometime either Monday or Tuesday.