Archive

Cause of house fire that claimed 5 in Maine remains unclear | TribLIVE.com
News

Cause of house fire that claimed 5 in Maine remains unclear

The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — After an intense blaze tore through a two-apartment house near the University of Southern Maine, killing five people and critically injuring another, investigators returned to the scene Sunday hunting for clues to the cause of the state’s deadliest fire in three decades.

In a heavy, wet snow, police and fire investigators moved in and out of what remained of the three-story building. The road was still blocked off, and a memorial that included flowers and a pumpkin had sprung up.

Even as the cause of the fire and identity of the victims remained a mystery, officials had sorted out one element of confusion by the end of Saturday, a day that sent ripples of anxiety and sorrow through the campus and the city of Portland: Everyone who had been in the house was accounted for.

State fire marshal’s spokesman Steve McCausland said most, if not all, the residents of the 94-year-old house were USM students, but he said there was no indication that students were killed in the fire.

On Sunday night, the fire marshal’s office was still working on identifying the five who died. McCausland said the office continued to investigate the cause of the blaze and would be joined Monday by federal investigators.

Carol Schiller, who lives near the home and is president of the University Neighborhood Organization, said she woke up Saturday morning to loud popping sounds and looked outside her window to see a man engulfed in flames.

“He was making some sounds, probably screaming,” Schiller said. “I saw him rolling on the ground, and then it clicked, ‘Oh my God, he’s on fire.’ ”

Schiller said she wrote a letter to the city in May expressing concern about the condition of the home.


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.