LEWISTON (WGME) — Three young teenagers have been arrested for arson for allegedly setting a fire at an apartment building on Blake Street Saturday that killed one person.
Police say 70-year-old Felicien Betu was trapped in a sixth-floor apartment and jumped to escape the flames just as firefighters were working to reach him.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the fire.
Jennifer Davis, who lives down the street, said she had never seen a fire so close.
“We heard a popping from where we live starting off and then it just went phew! So quick,” she said.
“It was traumatic. You could feel the heat. Everything. It was wild,” she said.
Davis said she was happy to hear that two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old were arrested for arson on Monday.
“Now I just hope that pay for their crime, for what they’ve done. Too many families have lost their place to live children, adults, senior citizens, pets, everything. They‘ve lost everything,” Davis said.
Nicole Evans of the American Red Cross said the organization is helping to house 61 people from 17 families displaced by the fire and that they are helping address other needs.
“We’re surrounding these individuals and families with as much support as we can possibly provide,” she said.
“We provide mental health, spiritual care, and healthcare for these individuals in this great time of need,” Evans said.
She said the Red Cross planned to bring in partners to work with those impacted by the fire, connecting them with local resources so they can try to rebuild their lives.
“I hope that the community will continue to put their arms around these individuals and families,” she said.
A number of neighbors WGME spoke with asked if the teenagers arrested would be charged in connection with the death of the man who died in this fire.
The Androscoggin County district attorney said any homicide charges would come from the state attorney general’s office and that the matter is currently under review.