PORTLAND, Maine — Five people have died and another is in critical condition as a result of a fire that broke out at 20 Noyes St. on Saturday morning, according to Portland Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria.
Seven people who had been in the building escaped, he said. That includes the man who is still in critical condition who got out by jumping from a second-story window. After first being taken to the Maine Medical Center, he was brought to a burn center at a Boston hospital with severe burns.
The fire chief did not release the identities of any of the victims. He said he could not confirm whether any were students at the University of Southern Maine, though earlier in the day, Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said none of them were students.
A statement from the university said that some of the people who live in the building are USM students.
The fire severely damaged the two unit house, which is in a residential neighborhood not far from USM’s campus. The fire was reported at 7:17 on Saturday morning.
LaMoria said late Saturday afternoon that the fire department had not yet made contact with the owner of the building.
State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas and a team of fire marshals were on the scene with Portland firefighters throughout the day Saturday investigating the fire to determine the cause, according to McCausland. They will return to the scene to continue the investigation on Sunday.
Mike Hogan, who lives down the street from the house where the fire occurred, said someone banged on his door just after 7 a.m. Saturday morning trying to alert the neighborhood in case the fire spread. Hogan stepped outside onto the sidewalk, where he said he saw flames shooting out of the building.
He said he’d heard a lot of noise from the house on Friday night.
“I almost called the cops last night and didn’t because it’s Friday night, it’s Halloween and I didn’t want to be that guy,” he said. “Now it’s eating at me, wondering, if I would have called, if it would have made a difference this morning.”
A family support center has been set up at the USM Woodbury Campus Center at 35 Bedford St.
USM said on its website Saturday afternoon: “We are saddened by the news of a three alarm fire near USM’s Portland Campus. At this time we have confirmed that there were USM students residing in the building, however we have no information as to any injuries to the USM students.
“We are working closely with the Portland Police Department, Portland Fire Department, and the American Red Cross to monitor this situation,” the statement continued. It instructed any USM students seeking support to call 207-228-8355.
BDN photographer Troy Bennett contributed to this report.
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