Still no word on what caused the deadly hotel fire in Kittery

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 5:41 PM EDT
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KITTERY, Maine (WMTW) - Almost a week after the deadly massive fire that destroyed the Days Inn in Kittery, there are still few answers as to how and why the building caught fire.

The fire on May 17 destroyed the hotel valued at $1.7 million, according to town records.

It wasn’t until the next day when investigators discovered a body in rubble, but determining who died has proven difficult.

No one has come forward to report anyone missing. With the damage from the fire making it impossible to tell if the remains are male or female, the state Medical Examiner’s Office is working to determine if dental records and other methods could be helpful in the identification process.

The hotel owner told investigators his records were lost in the fire, and he did not keep a guest list, which is required by law. It remains unclear if another person is still unaccounted for following the fire.

On Tuesday afternoon, six days after the fire, residents nearby could still hear one of the fire alarms beeping. While the hotel had working smoke alarms, officials said it did not have a sprinkler system.

Following the fire, the public questioned whether the hotel should have had a sprinkler system in place. According to state law, “all new hotels constructed after Jan. 1, 1992, of any type construction, having two stories or more above grade level, must be protected by a complete approved automatic sprinkler system.”

Officials with the State Fire Marshal’s Office said the hotel was not required to have a fire suppression system because the hotel was built in 1956. Hospitality Maine said only 80% of lodging facilities in Maine have fire suppression systems.

Regarding the cause of the fire, on Tuesday, Kittery Fire Chief David O’Brien said he expected an update from the State Fire Marshal’s Office “soon.”

During a news briefing the day after the fire, officials who were asked if the fire was considered suspicious only replied that it was still under investigation. Officials said a police K-9 trained to sniff out accelerants did not find anything at the scene of the fire.