At least five people died Saturday morning — and several remained unaccounted for — in a fire that ripped through a Portland, Maine, home used by University of Southern Maine students, officials said. The three-alarm blaze was reported just after 7:15 a.m. at a two-family, three-story structure off campus. Seven people managed to escape without injuries, while one person who jumped out of a second-story window had serious burns, reported NBC affiliate WCSH. That victim was reportedly flown to Boston for treatment and was in critical condition.
Two of the bodies were found on the third floor, while two others were recovered from the second floor, WCSH said. The people inside the home had been celebrating Halloween the night before. Portland Police Chief Jerome LaMoria could not immediately verify whether the victims were University of Southern Maine students, although the school opened a family support center for those affected. A spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety said he did not believe any of the victims were students. At least one of the survivors does attend the university, the school’s president said.
“At this point what we are doing, we are removing the victims, we are taking a structural survey of the building,” Fire Chief LaMoria told reporters, adding, “We are going through this very methodically.”
Neighbors told WCSH that the residents of the home are mostly in their 20s. The number of victims and those unaccounted for remains fluid since not everyone who lives there may have been home at the time, officials added. “We will be working diligently, however long it takes, to determine what led to this tragedy,” LaMoria said.