Fatal Maine Fire Followed Removal of Encampment of Homeless People

A local housing coalition cast blame on "the city's lack of urgency" in addressing homelessness as the cause of the fire remained under investigation

At least two of the three people who died in a fire in a condemned house in Bangor, Maine, had been moved with other homeless people from a riverfront encampment days before by city officials, a newspaper reported.

Three people died and two people escaped the fire Sunday morning. Two of the dead had stayed at an encampment under an I-395 bridge before the city required people to leave the area, the Bangor Daily News reported.

​​"It's not like they were doing anything inappropriate," Martha Schoendorf, who lives at a different encampment of homeless residents, told the newspaper. "They were just trying to stay warm."

The victims were identified as 28-year-old Tim Tuttle, 31-year-old Dylan Smith and 56-year-old Andrew Allen. All three were unhoused, officials said.

While the fire remains under investigation, the Greater Bangor Housing Coalition, which advocates for the city's homeless residents and for more affordable housing, laid blame for the tragedy on the city's decision to clear the I-395 encampment without housing alternatives.

"The city's lack of urgency in creating safe accessible housing creates real life-or-death urgency for unhoused community members," the group said in a statement.

A makeshift memorial was created outside the house with a cross, Bible, flowers and candles.

"The city is saddened to have learned of this incident and expresses our sincere condolences to the friends and families of those who passed away," said Julia Steer, city spokesperson.  

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us