Fire severely damages Lee Auto Mall building in Auburn

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May 5—AUBURN — Fire ripped through a section of Lee Auto Mall on Thursday afternoon as fire crews from Lewiston and Auburn battled flames shooting from the roof of the building.

Employees working in other parts of the dealership were evacuated when flames were spotted on the roof of the Chrysler Jeep and Dodge Ram section at about 5 p.m. The portion of the building that burned was empty because renovations were underway there.

Several people at the scene said that workers had been on the roof using cutting tools, which may have sparked the blaze. The first calls to come in reported that buildings were being evacuated after fire was seen on the roof.

By the time flames were brought under control, a section of the empty building had collapsed. No injuries were reported. It was not immediately clear if any of the dealership's vehicles were damaged in the blaze.

The section of the dealership that caught fire is near the corner of Center Street and Stetson Road. As fire crews battled the flames, police blocked off sections of Center Street around the scene. Northbound traffic was detoured onto Joline Drive while southbound traffic was detoured onto Colby Street. The situation caused snarls among commuter hour traffic along Center Street.

While renovations have been underway at the dealership, Dodge and Chrysler sales staff had been operating at the Nissan section.

An hour after the fire was first reported, fire crews remained at the scene mopping up and dousing hot spots. An investigation into the cause of the blaze was expected to begin immediately.