South Portland hotel fire blamed on fuel tank

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SOUTH PORTLAND — A fire that gutted a hotel room and damaged five others was ruled accidental by the state fire marshal’s office.

Investigators said the March 4 fire at the Knight’s Inn on Main Street started when a propane tank exploded at 9 a.m., causing burns to the face and arms of a 60-year-old tenant, David Jauchius. 

Jauchius had reportedly installed a propane gas heater in his room to supplement the hotel’s hot water baseboard heat. Investigators found two additional 20-pound propane tanks and 123 smaller tanks, most of which were empty.

Investigators believe a leak in one of the tanks caused the explosion.