Cigar blamed for fire that killed Windham man

Posted Aug. 13, 2013, at 6:14 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 13, 2013, at 7:49 p.m.

WINDHAM, Maine — A cigar or ashes from a cigar likely started a fire that claimed the life of a man and put his fiancee in the hospital, authorities said.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office said the cigar or ashes ignited a futon in the living room of the third floor apartment at 13 Main St. early Sunday morning, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for Maine Department of Public Safety.

Annette Kowalic, 25, managed to flee the apartment and was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Firefighters pulled 25-year-old Parker Blanchard from his bedroom and tried to resuscitate him outside the building, but were unsuccessful. He died of smoke inhalation.

All other occupants of the three-unit apartment building were able to escape the building, which was equipped with working smoke detectors, McCausland said.

“The fire marshals are working on a cause,” he said Sunday afternoon. “They need to tighten up a couple aspects of the investigation today or tomorrow. There’s no indication it’s anything but an accident.”

The fire was spotted at 3:37 a.m. by a passerby.

Sgt. Tim York of the Maine fire marshal’s office said that the American Red Cross was at the scene Sunday morning.

Windham and Gorham fire departments worked to put out the fire, York said, adding that other agencies also may have been involved.

BDN writer Abigail Curtis contributed to this report.

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