Firefighters from numerous departments throughout southern Maine and New Hampshire work to put out a fire at the Days Inn on the U.S. Route 1 Bypass in Kittery last Wednesday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Identifying the person who died in a Kittery hotel fire could be difficult and time-consuming.

After the Days Inn was destroyed by fire and a body was found in the rubble, investigators said no one had reported a person missing. The hotel’s records were lost in the fire and the innkeeper had not kept a guest list as required, factors that investigators said made it more difficult to determine if everyone staying there was accounted for.

The medical examiner’s office said Monday that the body has not been identified and any information about the person’s identity will come from the state fire marshal’s office. A spokesperson for the agency did not respond to a phone call or email Monday requesting an update on the investigation and an interview with the fire marshal’s office.

“The process of identification can be arduous, and takes cooperation with the investigating law enforcement agency as they are the ones checking for previous law enforcement interactions, possible next of kin and talking with people who may have known the deceased person,” Lindsey Chasteen, administrator of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said Monday.

It’s unclear how long it will take officials to release the identity once it is confirmed.

Investigators have released no new information since late last week when they announced that the body had been recovered. They have not determined a cause and have not said if they believe the fire is suspicious.


The medical examiner uses several methods of identification, starting with visual identification. If the deceased person is recognizable, they try to compare it to a driver’s license or identification photo. If that doesn’t work, they look to identifying marks such as scars or tattoos. But for burn victims, there may be no identifying markings visible depending on the severity of their burns, Chasteen said in an email.

If the medical examiner’s office has a tentative identification and a known dentist, they will attempt to use dental records to confirm a person’s identity. Many times, Chasteen said, a person’s dentist is not known, so the medical examiner will attempt a DNA comparison with a parent, child or male relative.

Kittery Fire Chief David O’Brien said Monday that there have been no issues at the fire scene since the remaining hot spots were extinguished last week. Any updates about the cause of the fire will come from state investigators, he said.

The fire at the Days Inn on the Route 1 Bypass broke out around noon on May 17 and spread quickly through the wood-frame building. Kittery police helped evacuate people from the hotel as firefighters arrived and tried to check rooms that may have been occupied. Within minutes, the fire grew intense and the focus shifted to an exterior attack to contain the flames.

The hotel, which was valued at $1.7 million by the town, did not have a fire suppression or sprinkler system. There were working smoke alarms in the building.

It was built in 1956, according to town records, and was not required to have a sprinkler system, which state law requires for all hotels built since 1992. Older hotels are required to have approved smoke, heat and fire detection systems.

The victim’s body was pulled from the rubble of the building on Thursday afternoon. O’Brien said last week that the body was in the most badly burned part of the structure, but the building was too damaged to tell if the person had been in a room or hallway. The victim was not found in the area that firefighters had tried to reach before being pushed back by intense flames.

Investigators say the hotel owner, Kamlesh Patel, has been cooperative.

Patel on May 5 filed for a review of his proposal to demolish the hotel and replace it with a 107-room, four-story building. If those plans are approved by the Kittery Planning Board, the building will be required to have a fire suppression system.

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