Bangor senator calls on city to take action after fatal fire
BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Bangor Police, Fire, and the State Fire Marshal’s Office continue their investigation after a fire killed three people Sunday morning.
Authorities tell us all three men were homeless and had apparently been living in the building on Union Street that had been vacant for about a year.
This tragedy has a lot of people asking what can be done to prevent this from happening again.
“This is a multi-level issue. Affordable housing is one issue, turning condemned buildings into housing is another, but we also have mental health issues, substance abuse treatment issues,” said Sen. Joe Baldacci, D-Bangor.
After a fire in a condemned building took the lives of three people, Baldacci is calling on the city of Bangor to take action.
The director of Code Enforcement says there are currently 104 condemned properties in Bangor.
“We need to reduce the number of condemned buildings. We need to take buildings by eminent domain. I know that’s not something the city likes to do, but in certain circumstances, I think it’s going to have to happen if we’re going to protect neighbors and neighborhoods,” said Baldacci.
The men who died are identified as 28-year-old Tim Tuttle, 31-year-old Dylan Smith, and 56-year-old Andrew Allen.
We’re told at least one of the men, Dylan Smith, had been living under the I-395 overpass until everyone had to relocate last week after the city cleared out the area.
“Dylan Smith was a good good man. He had his problems but he was a good man,” said Eric Weyand, Old Town resident.
Executive Director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter Boyd Kronholm says two of the men who died were at their warming center the evening of the fire.
“This is the exact reason we opened the warming houses so incidents like this didn’t happen,” said Kronholm,
Kronholm says both their warming center and the Brick Church are open every night from 6 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
He says shelter isn’t the only issue the homeless community is dealing with right now.
“The acuity of the substance abuse that’s going on out there right now seems to be way more than we’ve seen in the past years. Most of the folks that we see come through the door have some untreated mental health or substance use disorder and a lot of them actually have both,” said Kronholm.
We’re told the house on Union Street where the fire broke out is owned by a mortgage company based out of Texas.
Baldacci says he’s voted for tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing.
He says the city also voted in 2013 to adopt an ordinance to hold absentee landowners more accountable to maintain their buildings.
“The tools are available. I just want to see our city council and our city come together and be able to aggressively address this issue,” said Baldacci.
Kronholm says the homeless shelter is working with the city weekly to try and address the needs within the community.
“I appreciate what they’re doing through the Hope House, however, it’s just living outside and having to jump through hoops, having medical problems, it’s difficult,” said Weyand.
We reached out to city officials on Monday.
They tell us they are saddened by this incident but have no further comment as they await the results of the investigation.
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