Two people are dead after two separate incidents of tent fires in Portland and Sanford over the weekend.
A Portland Police officer found a deceased person inside of a burning tent Sunday at a campsite along the northbound lane of I-295 at the rear of 140 Marginal Way.
An officer patrolling the area located the campsite just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday and saw a human body inside of a tent that was on fire.
After the fire department had extinguished the fire they determined that the subject was deceased.
The body has been taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to identify the individual and determine the cause and manner of death.
The cause and origin of the tent fire will be investigated by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Portland Fire Department and Portland Police Detectives.
The Portland Police will provide more information on the incident once the individual is identified.
On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Sanford Fire Department responded to a fire in a wooded area near 1 Eagle Drive in Sanford.
Fire officials located remains of an adult male were located in a makeshift tent that had been destroyed by fire.
The remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta for an autopsy.
The cause of the Sanford tent fire is still under investigation.
A large homeless encampment at the Marginal Way Park and Ride was cleared by city and state officials on Nov. 1, leading many to move to other encampments around the city.
At a Portland City Council meeting last Monday, Fire Chief Gautreau told the City Councilors about the risk of fires at the city’s homeless encampments as the weather gets colder.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in outside fire calls, just recently, just with the weather being colder — particularly at Eastern Promenade and Harbor View Park,” Gautreau said.
Gautreau described one incident in which the Fire Department responded to a three-tent fire in the East End where propane tanks were exploding.
“It’s cold out, they’re doing what they have to do, but it’s just increasing the safety risk right now,” the fire chief said at an earlier Health and Human Services and Public Safety Committee meeting regarding the city’s encampments.
The fire chief said that the encampments have resulted in the burning of inappropriate and toxic materials, causing smoke to negatively impact bridges and roadways.