Five people were confirmed dead and two others injured Saturday in a three-alarm fire that tore through an apartment building in Portland, Maine, where students from University of Southern Maine were reportedly living. The cause of the blaze -- the deadliest in Portland since 1984 -- is under investigation.
Officials told WCSH, Portland, a Halloween party took place the previous night. The building is near the college campus, but none of the victims is believed to have been a student. The names of the victims have yet to be released.
Witnesses said the fire appeared to have started outside the house and state Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said investigators Sunday would try to determine whether an accelerant was used.
One survivor, a young man who has not been identified, was severely burned, the Portland Press Herald reported. The man was transported to a Boston hospital in critical condition.
Seven people escaped the blaze, WCSH reported, with some jumping from the second floor. The fire gutted the three-story structure on Noyes Street in northwest Portland. Witnesses said they could see flames shooting out of the roof when the fire was at its peak midday Saturday.
One source told the Press Herald the property was run down and she had complained to the city about conditions. She said rowdy parties were often held at the home. Officials said they are looking into possible building code violations.
A support center for those displaced was set up at the university’s Woodbury Campus Center.