Fire during the night, caused by a 1/4-inch separation in a furnace chimney connector, destroyed the 30-room, three-story, wood-frame Sedgwick Hotel in Bath Maine, on September 9, 1973. Three men and a woman lost their lives; 18 others were injured, some seriously. Four of those with minor injuries were fire fighters. The 100-year-old hotel had no fire detection or alarm system and no sprinklers. The fire burned in concealed spaces an estimated 1 1/2 to 2 hours before breaking out into the lobby, where it was discovered by an occupant. The occupant saw a lobby couch on fire and, assuming that only the couch was burning, tried to smother the fire with his coat. Failing to put the fire out, he ran to a phone booth across the street and called the Fire Department at 4:13 a.m.
The fire occurred when carbonized wood in the tongue-and-groove wood ceiling for a boiler room ignited. The fire burned through the ceiling and entered the area between the wood joists. It then spread horizontally through joist channels and vertically through the hollow spaces of the non-firestopped walls. The fire burned into the lobby where it ignited the couch and was discovered.