Portland apartment building fire accidental

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PORTLAND — Fire investigators said the cause of the Parkside blaze that left 16 people homeless on Tuesday was accidental.

Assistant Fire Chief Keith Gautreau announced the findings Wednesday, saying the investigation determined the fire at 15-17 Sherman St. began around 5:15 p.m. on a second-floor porch because of improperly discarded smoking materials.

No one was injured in the fire that heavily damaged the second and third floors of the apartment house, Gautreau said. High winds helped the fire spread quickly to the building’s interior through an open door and window.

The American Red Cross of Southern Maine is assisting 14 of the 16 residents with temporary housing, Gautreau said.