The major structure fire at a Thomaston apartment building Oct. 9 was caused by the careless disposal of a cigarette, according to the Thomaston fire chief.

“A guy who lives there was smoking a cigarette out on the deck,” said Fire Chief Mike Leo. “He put it into a plastic container, and thought it was out but it wasn’t. He went back inside and took a shower. We he came back out, the outside wall was on fire. And it just spread from there.”

The fire on Knox Street started on the second-floor deck, which had a porch over it, Leo said. “Then it went up that wall and caught the vinyl siding on fire and went down the whole length of the building very quick, very fast. Then it got up into the attic.”

Once the fire reached the third-floor attic, “it was all over the place up there,” Leo said. “We had to do a lot of chasing up in the attic.”

One resident went to the hospital with burn injuries, the fire chief said. “They came out of the apartment and couldn’t get down … so they had to jump off the second-story porch,” Leo said.

Approximately 35 to 40 firefighters battled the blaze. None was injured. There was rehab and EMS on scene. It was a three-alarm fire, with crews from Thomaston, South Thomaston and Rockland. The fire departments of Cushing and Warren also served, and provided backup.

The top story of the building is “completely gone,” the fire chief said. The bottom floor has a lot of damage from smoke, water and heat.

The call came around 1 p.m. Fire crews knocked down the bulk of the fire in an hour, Leo said, but firefighters didn’t get back to the station until 7:30 p.m. Then there was cleanup, and firefighters left the station at 9:30 p.m. It was an eight-hour call, Leo said.

Leo said fire crews had two hydrants open. There were two master streams and four hand lines. A lot of water was used to fight the fire, Leo said.

Red Cross response

Gretchen O’Grady of the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross said the organization assisted a family of three, a family of two, and five individuals.

In cases of fire, the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross can provide three days of shelter at a local establishment; financial assistance through a debit card for food and clothing; referrals, such as for mental health services; and replacement of medical goods or prescriptions.

O’Grady, the emergency services director, said people who have lost so much need things such as gas cards, help with transportation and cash.

She said people want to help by providing clothing and goods, but this can be a hindrance because until the displaced residents have a place to go, they have no place to put it. O’Grady said the donors are well-meaning, but all that stuff can be an “overwhelming physical and emotional burden on fire victims.”