Maine fire victims included wedding photographer
At least two of the victims, all in their 20s, were tenants, David Bragdon Jr. and Ashley Thomas, fire Chief Jerry LaMoria said. Two non-tenants, Christopher Conlee, of Portland, and Maelisha Jackson, of Topsham, also died in the Saturday morning fire, he said.
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The fifth victim is believed to be a tenant, but the medical examiner was still working to confirm the identity.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire, which gutted the 94-year-old two-apartment house. It now has help from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which will provide scientific support at the scene of the fire, LaMoria said.
The fire happened the morning after a Halloween party at the house, state police spokesman Steve McCausland has said. A badly burned survivor, Steven Summers, of Rockland, was hospitalized in Boston in critical condition, and seven other tenants escaped.
One of the tenants to escape, Nathan Long, said Thomas was a wedding photographer and Bragdon Jr. worked at a nearby restaurant called Great Lost Bear. He said he and another tenant, Kyle Bozeman, escaped by jumping from a second-story porch roof as the apartment filled with smoke and fire.
Long said the tenants were like a family, frequently cooking family-style meals and serving as a support system for each other, and the loss of his friends is gnawing at him.
“Surviving it while three people that I really love didn’t survive is really eating me up really bad. It’s destroying me,” he said, referring to the three tenants. “I feel blessed to be alive, but I feel incredibly guilty that I survived and they didn’t.”
Fire investigators have said it could take days to determine what caused the intense fire, Maine’s deadliest in 30 years. All the victims died of smoke inhalation, LaMoria said.read more: wedding dresses