PORTLAND, MAINE — At least five people were killed Saturday and two others were injured when a fire swept through a house in the U.S. state of Maine, local officials said, but it is feared that the death toll could increase as up to four others are said to remain unaccounted-for.
The incident happened at around 7:17 a.m. local time when multiple 911 calls were made regarding a fire at a two-unit residence in Portland, the largest city in Maine, about 100 miles (157 kilometers) northeast of Boston. The blaze happened just hours after a group of young people held a Halloween party at the house, which was known as a "party house" among neighbors.
City spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said five people had been confirmed dead by late Saturday afternoon, but she could not comment on local media reports that as many as four others remained unaccounted-for. One person who survived the fire but was seriously injured was transported to a burn center in Boston, while a second person was treated at Maine Medical Center before being released.
"Seven tenants did manage to escape safely from the building," Grondin said.
A statement from the University of Southern Maine (USM) said some of its students were residing at the residence involved in Saturday's three-alarm fire, but the school could not say whether students were among the victims. "We are working closely with the Portland Police Department, Portland Fire Department, and the American Red Cross to monitor this situation," the statement said.
Grondin said the five deceased had been removed from the scene and officials were working to identify them. "At this point officials are unable to confirm whether any of the victims are students at the University," she said.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.