Tuesday, 19 February 2019 18:03

1981 Bangor unsolved arson left 3 dead Featured

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BANGOR - Three local residents died in a 1981 fire on Main Street and no one has been charged in what was initially called an arson-murder.

The five-story building where the fire broke out was located at 146 Main St., which today is a parking lot.


“It was 1981. It was actually Feb. 17, I believe, so it just this past week,” said Jake Johnson, Bangor Fire Department public educator and historian. “Fire broke out at the businesses - the Candlelighter restaurant, Greyhound bus station, there were a few other businesses there as well.


“When firefighters arrived they found several folks trapped,” he said.


Firefighters saved many of the occupants as the fire swept through the 110-year-old McCann building, a part of the Brountas block. Around 15 apartments were located above Peter’s Candlelighter Restaurant.


“They actually had some spectacular saves, including one of their own,” Johnson said. “One of the firefighters, Tommy Duran, was blown out by the fire, literally blown out the window. Fortunately, a couple other firefighters grabbed a hold of him and saved him.”


Firefighters Larry Sherman and Ritchie Palmer caught Duran in mid-air, the reports state.


“Then one of our firefighters at the time, Vance Tripp, also had a spectacular save when one of the tenants tried to jump” from the fourth floor, Johnson said. “He just barely caught hold of him by the wrist and was able to reel him in.


“In the aftermath, they found there were three fire fatalities in that fire,” he said.


Tenants Jesse Eddins, Patricia Oakes and Donald Morrell all died of smoke inhalation, authorities said. Their bodies were found on the fourth floor of the building.


Bangor City Councilor Arthur Brountas and his brother George owned the building at the time. Arthur's son, Peter Brountas now is the proprietor and on Tuesday recalled how sad his father was about the loss of life.


He remembered collecting the mail for Oakes, who Brountas said was, “a really nice lady.”


At first, “They called it an arson-murder,” Johnson said.


Fire investigators found a highly flammable liquid in a closet on the second floor but no one was ever charged in the arson. The case is no longer active.


The deaths really bothered the property owners who decided never to rebuild.

Nit-Noi Ricker

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Nit-Noi Ricker is an Army brat who grew up on a farm in Winterport. She went to the University of Maine and the University of Northern Texas to learn how to be a journalist and started her career in Arizona at the Williams-Grand Canyon News, ...