Investigators say a fire that destroyed an apartment building Monday in Augusta was started by child who was playing with matches or a lighter.

The blaze, started accidentally by a 5-year-old, left three families without a home and took the life of a pet, Steven McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a new release Tuesday.

According to the Augusta Fire-Rescue Facebook page, the fire was called in at around 3:00 p.m. The building was fully engulfed when crews arrived and a second building also caught fire. Residents of the second building were able to stay that night in their homes after firefighters extinguished the blaze, but 94 Mt. Vernon Avenue was destroyed. A dog died in the blaze but all of the occupants were able to get out safely. The Red Cross is working with them in the aftermath.

One resident told that a woman on the second floor ran to his apartment and asked if he had a fire extinguisher. He said by the time he was able to rip it off the wall, her apartment was fully engulfed.

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