November 21, 2019
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Tent fire that killed homeless man near I-295 likely caused by accident

South Portland Police Department | BDN
South Portland Police Department | BDN
Local police are asking the public for help identifying a man found deceased early Monday in a burned tent within a homeless encampment near Exit 4 of Interstate-295, and have released this photo of the bike he apparently used.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Someone driving on Interstate 295 noticed a fire in the woods near Exit 4 early Monday and responding officials found a grisly scene.

“It was a tent that a person had been living in that was on fire,” Sgt. Ken Grimes, an investigator with the Maine fire marshal’s office, said from the scene. “We do, unfortunately, have one male victim who was in the campsite.”

The tent, which was “completely consumed by the fire,” was located near other encampments, that were all vacant, he said.

“We’re processing the scene,” Grimes said just before 8 a.m. “We’ll be removing the body to the medical examiner’s office where they’ll be conducting an autopsy, hopefully, later on today.”

The fire was so destructive that there is no way to provide any description of the man — such as hair color or tattoos — except to say that he’s about 5-foot, 6-inches tall, South Portland police Det. Scott Corbett said Monday afternoon.

“We have no idea on many specifics. The body was badly burned,” the detective said in an email. “We believe it was accidental.”

South Portland police released the image of a red Schwinn bicycle, black Cabela’s jacket and black knit hat that reportedly was used by the unknown man.

Those who recognize the bike or who have information about the man or the fire can contact Corbett at or call the police department tip line at 347-4100.


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