Community stuffs buses with donations for Lewiston fire victims

8:19 PM, May 5, 2013   |    comments
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LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- It began last Monday. A devastating fire in Lewiston destroyed a garage and two apartment buildings... leaving 75 people homeless. Then on Friday night, a Lewiston school bus driver was coming into town and couldn't believe his eyes..

"As I'm coming into town I can see this fire and I say to myself not again," says Les Buzzell. "Not again."

This time 3 apartment buildings... Bringing the tally to 179 people without homes. "And their whole life is uprooted in that moment... and what if someone told you you had to move in 2 seconds," says Lewiston firefighter, Carlos Ortiz. "You know, it's a difficult thing."

Ortiz was on the scene of the second fire and says his focus was on people's safety. There was one reported injury.

After battling flames for 7 hours... Ortiz says people started asking firefighters about the condition of their homes.

"Is this apartment ok? Is that apartment ok? I have a lot of pictures or I have a lot of important documents that I really want and that's when it starts hitting home."

The two fires were set 5 days apart... but police believe the incidents are unrelated. Except that both suspected arsonists are just 12 years old.

"Oh I was shocked," says Lewiston resident, Debbie Nye. "I just couldn't believe it, it was unbelievable."

Now the community is evaluating their own belongings, and donating them to neighbors that need just about everything.

"We gave a cash donation and rounded up everything at the house."

Bedding, clothing, and toiletries are just some of the donations stuffed in buses at Shaw's in Lewiston, Wal Mart in Lewiston, and in Auburn at Shaw's. Buzzell says they had hoped to fill up one bus, but surpased that before the drive was over.

The buses will meet at the Salvation Army in Lewiston on Monday. Buzzell says volunteers there will help distribute the donations to victims of the Lewiston fires.


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