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Officials fear 2 could be in rubble from Gardiner fire; falling bricks injure 3 firefighters

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GARDINER, Maine — Two people may be buried under the rubble from a fire that swept through four downtown buildings, injuring three firefighters, officials said Friday.

Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said the two were believed to be tenants of the building where the fire apparently started late Thursday afternoon. He said they may have lived in apartments where the roof later collapsed.

Police said Friday afternoon that they had recovered human remains but later said it was a prop that resembled a body.

Officials want to verify that three other people, all believed to be tenants, are safe. Thomas said the three were seen leaving the scene, but officials want to speak to them to make sure they are OK.

Mayor Thom Harnett called the fire, which displaced a dozen people and left the buildings unstable, a "community disaster."

Three firefighters were injured by falling bricks after a roof collapsed, and one tenant was taken to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, authorities said. Fire Chief Al Nelson told WMTW-TV that the firefighters' injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Officials said the buildings contained apartments and commercial space. The fire spread from its initial starting point to three other buildings on one side, but a fire wall kept it from reaching buildings on the other side, Nelson said. The fire was extinguished by around 8 p.m.


This story has been corrected to show that a prop, not a body, was recovered from the fire.

PHOTO: Firefighters gather to put out a fire  on the fourth floor of a building in Gardiner, Maine, on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Authorities say four people are unaccounted for following a fire that swept through four buildings. Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said that two missing people were believed to be tenants of the building where the fire apparently started Thursday and may have lived in apartments where the roof later collapsed. Gardiner Mayor Thom Harnett called the fire a "community disaster." (Andy Molloy/The Kennebec Journal via AP)
Firefighters gather to put out a fire on the fourth floor of a building in Gardiner, Maine, on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Authorities say four people are unaccounted for following a fire that swept through four buildings. Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said that two missing people were believed to be tenants of the building where the fire apparently started Thursday and may have lived in apartments where the roof later collapsed. Gardiner Mayor Thom Harnett called the fire a "community disaster." (Andy Molloy/The Kennebec Journal via AP)

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PHOTO: Firefighters gather to put out a fire  on the fourth floor of a building in Gardiner, Maine, on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Authorities say four people are unaccounted for following a fire that swept through four buildings. Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said that two missing people were believed to be tenants of the building where the fire apparently started Thursday and may have lived in apartments where the roof later collapsed. Gardiner Mayor Thom Harnett called the fire a "community disaster." (Andy Molloy/The Kennebec Journal via AP)
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