Tenants and Businesses Begin to Pick Up the Pieces Following Water Street Fire

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:48 PM EST
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The fire on Water Street in Caribou last Wednesday displaced 21 individuals and two businesses. One of those businesses was Road to Recovery, we told you about last week, they will soon be moving back into their space. But for the other business and the 21 displaced people, they are left to pick up the pieces. Here’s NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard.

“Lavender Puff was started in 1963 by Fern Boudreau.”

“So when did you take over operations?”

“About 20 years ago, I’ve been here for a little over 30″

Karlyn Williams is the owner of Lavender Puff, a hair salon that operated next door to the Water Street fire, which burned for more than 21 hours on January 25th, leaving not only that building a total loss, but the building housing the Lavender Puff as well.

“We were hoping that it would be contained, the firewalls would stop our building from getting destroyed too.”

Williams says smoke damage, water damage and the possibility of a damaged foundation has left the building a total loss. Williams says she has no plans on bringing back the Lavender Puff.

“We’ve had a lot of offers from a lot of salons in Presque isle, Caribou for us to go to their salons, work in their chairs. It’ll be different for me, you know, 30 years of walking in and out of the same door it’s going to be a big change, but I’m trying to be positive about it and think of it as a new beginning.”

Williams went on to say the support they’ve received from the community has been heartwarming.

“This community, the whole county is amazing. When people are in trouble, people really step up and come to your aid.”

A sentiment shared by Peggy Vincent, who’s son, Dustin Sandbeck lived in his Water Street Apartment for more than 10 years.

“A few minutes before 2am my son called and he said “Mum, my apartment is on fire””

Sandbeck had 5 cats, who have been unaccounted for since the fire broke out, 3 of them were allegedly seen running out of the building.

“That was his main focus was about his cats, it wasn’t about any of his material things, he didn’t care that he had no shoes on his feet, no socks, no clothes on it was just all about his cats”

In the hours following the fire, Vincent and Sandbeck along with family and friends began searching the downtown caribou area for any sign of Sandbecks cats. Halfway Home Pet Rescue in Caribou posted descriptions of the cats, in hopes they would be found. Vincent says despite efforts by the whole community, none of the cats have been spotted.

“The surrounding that live in Caribou, they’ve been putting food out in red solo cups and putting them out on the sidewalk. The cat food that had been put out has been getting eaten, but we just don’t know if it’s his cats that ate the food or even survived.”

Vincent went on to say that while her son works through the loss of his beloved pets, his apartment and his possessions, she will be keeping a close eye on him.

“Right now he’s staying with me and he can be there as long as he wants, I mean if I have to put him in bubble wrap I’ll do that”

A feeling shared by a community still reeling from such loss.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

The investigation into the fire and the body recovered is ongoing. No new details have been released.