RUMFORD (WGME) – Six people remain hospitalized after three apartment buildings burned to the ground Sunday night.
Dramatic video showed three adjacent apartment buildings going up in flames.
Witnesses said they saw people jumping out of second- and third-story windows to escape the fast-moving fire.
Richard Hatstat said his friend helped one woman who jumped get to safety.
“She jumped out the second story window, broke both her legs. And he grabbed her and drug her out. And I seen his girlfriend grab two dogs and run over. So we started grabbing blankets, shoes and go down there ’cause nobody had no shoes on their feet or anything,” he said.
Rumford Fire Chief Chris Reed said the fire likely started on a porch of one of the apartments.
He said the three were older buildings that shared a stairwell so it was easy for the fire to jump from one to the next.
Reed said that for several tenants, there was only one way out.
“Multiple people jumping from the second and third floor above the fire,” he said. “That was their only option. There was no other escape other than to jump.”
Police Chief Tony Milligan said two of his officers were on the scene within a minute of the fire call.
He said they immediately started evacuating people, including a woman trapped on the first floor.
Patrol Officer Ashley Rich and Sgt. James Bernard then heard screams next door and shifted their attention to the second building on fire.
The two instructed two trapped females to jump from their third floor apartment and then dragged them to safety.
Milligan said his officers’ quick actions helped prevent what could have been multiple fatalities and said they are certainly heroes.
“They should be commended. They should have a medal because those buildings had a lot of people in them,” he said. “They all got out. Thank God they all got out.”
The state fire marshal’s office and criminal investigators with the Rumford Police Department are investigating the fire’s cause.