A fire at a multi-unit apartment building in downtown Houlton on Wednesday claimed the life of a four-year-old boy and injured his two siblings.

Just after 9:15 a.m., the Houlton Fire Department responded to the fire at a three-story apartment building on Mechanic Street. Fire Departments from Littleton, Hodgdon, Linneus and Monticello helped battle the wind-whipped blaze well into the afternoon.

The three children were home alone at the time of the fire, according to Shannon Moss of the Maine Department of Safety.

The State Medical Examiner confirmed that four-year-old Taimi Pinkham died of smoke inhalation. His twin sister was treated for smoke inhalation at Houlton Regional Hospital, and their 12-year-old brother suffered serious burn injuries and was transported by Lifeflight to Maine Medical Center in Portland. He is expected to recover, Moss said.

One firefighter was transported to the hospital to be treated for breathing related issues.

The blaze sent smoke billowing throughout the downtown Houlton area. Houlton fire officials said the roof of the building collapsed around 11:00 a.m. By 1:00 p.m., crews were focused on preventing the flames from spreading to nearby buildings.

Also assisting at the scene was the  Aroostook County Emergency Management Agency, Houlton Police Department, Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office and US Customs and Border Protection.

UPDATE: Officials say 38 people in the 14-unit building were displaced by the fire. The American Red Cross has set up an emergency shelter at the John Millar Civic Center in Houlton.  The shelter is set-up to accommodate pets – and COVID-19 protocols are in place to keep everyone safe, including health screenings and masking. Red Cross volunteers are working to connect with residents to ensure their immediate needs are met in the aftermath of this disaster.

Maine Dept. of Public Safety
Maine Dept. of Public Safety

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the circumstances surrounding the fatal fire.

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