After Lewiston fires, Auburn steps up building patrols

6:44 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After watching ten buildings burn in Lewiston this month, Auburn City officials are keeping a closer eye on their own vacant and condemned properties.

The City of Auburn has compiled a list of at least 65 buildings for inspection and patrol.

The Auburn Fire Department already does building inspections every Thursday, but now, members of the Volunteers in Police Service program are checking on those bulidings, too.

"It has become a bigger priority," said Eric Cousens, Director of Planning and Permitting.

He said Auburn's vacant and condemned buildings are more scattered throughout the city than Lewiston's, which adds a challenge.

"I think it may make it a little more difficult as far as monitoring, because you have to travel farther to cover all the buildings," said Cousens.

In Lewiston, city officials are pleased with the efforts to address condemned properties.

According to Deputy CIty Administrator Phil Nadeau, Lewiston Firefighters will have inspected every buliding on their targeted list by next week.

The Department of Corrections has supplied additional labor to help Lewiston Public Works board up condemned properties, and dispose of items left inside.

"We're actually using crews to take the fuel out of some of these vacant properties, so that's the additional step that we just simply wouldn't have time to do," said Nadeau.

He said the Lewiston Punch Program, which encourages landlords to dispose of debris, has been successful in its first two weeks.

So far, the city has collected more than 25 tons of debris.


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