LEWISTON — A Wednesday morning blaze left a Sylvan Avenue apartment building in shambles and killed a cat and a dog.
No one was injured in the fire at 43 Sylvan Ave., but at least two family pets — a cat named Big Papi and a dog — were killed by fire or smoke inhalation, police Chief Paul Leclair said.
"It was very heavily damaged," Leclair said. "Nobody is going to be living there for a very long time. There's too much damage — too much smoke damage, too much water damage and we wouldn't recommend anybody live there."
Later in the day, fire officials were still searching for the cause. The fire engulfed the first and second floors and had spread to the roof by 9:30 a.m.
If there was any good news at all, it was that wrapped Christmas gifts in two first-floor rooms did not burn.
"A few of the boxes are a little wet, but they're salvageable," Lewiston Fire Inspector Paul Ouellette said. "They're very happy about that."
Building owner Kim Teehan, who lives on the first floor with her husband, Jimmy, said she was home until 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. She'd left to go to her church to help prepare for Christmas Eve services, taking her nieces with her. She received a phone call from a friend, alerting her that her building was on fire.
"It's all in there, everything we own," she said. "We don't have anything else."
The second floor was reportedly occupied by relatives of the Teehans.
Fire crews were able to rescue two pets, a kitten named Little Jabroni and a 3-year-old terrier named Carlos.
According to Ouellette, the fire started in the first-floor kitchen. It moved up through spaces in the wall, largely bypassed the second floor, and burned through the attic and into the roof.
"Once it got into the roof, it moved from left to right," Ouellette said.
He was assisting Fire Inspector Pete Morrell in a search for the cause of the blaze.
Teehan and her husband were surrounded by friends as firefighters led the soaked and shivering Carlos from the burning building. Jimmy Teehan scooped up the dog and swept him into a neighbor's house to warm up before sending him off with a family friend to be checked by a veterinarian.
"Thank you. Jesus," he said, holding the dog up for the crowd to see, before ducking indoors.
A Lewiston fire official said damage was estimated at $185,000. The owners had insurance on their building.