Steven Summers was conscious for four days after being severely burned in an apartment building fire in Portland last month, including when he was removed from life support while surrounded by his family and friends.

Details of his ordeal are included in documents that are part of a lawsuit filed in Superior Court by his widow against the owner of the building on Noyes Street. Five other young adults died in the blaze Nov. 1. Summers escaped the fire, but was severely burned and died on Nov. 4 in a Boston hospital.

His wife, Ashley Summers, declined to comment Thursday, saying she and the couple’s two daughters – ages 5 and 3 – are trying to grieve as privately as possible amid the media attention surrounding the fire, the state’s deadliest in 40 years.

Steven Summers was 29. He grew up in Alexandria, Va., before joining the Navy. He met his future wife in 2008 while posted at the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Three weeks later they were married, sporting matching tattoos.

“We were just kids, crazy in love,” Ashley Summers told the Portland Press Herald the day her husband died. He was outgoing and athletic, she said, someone who used to run half-marathons.

Summers had earned a degree in justice administration from the University of Maine at Augusta and was working as a customer service representative at Boston Financial Data Services in Rockland.


He was visiting friends in Portland for Halloween and was among those sleeping in the house on Noyes Street when the fire started early on Nov. 1. He was one of the occupants who jumped from the second story to get out of the house, but not before he was engulfed in flames.

A neighbor said later that she looked out her window and saw him running into the street in “a cocoon of flames.”

Paul Garrido, a friend of Summers who had gone with him to Portland, said in court documents that he jumped from the second story and saw Summers lying in the road, still on fire. Garrido ran over to put out the flames with his coat.

“He was burned all over, but still conscious,” Garrido said. “It was obvious he was suffering a great deal.”

In court documents, Ashley Summers says her husband suffered severe burns over 98 percent of his body. He was placed on a ventilator and kept in a “bubble” to prevent infection. He was conscious throughout his four-day stay at Massachusetts General Hospital and was able to communicate through hand squeezes and other body movements, she said.

“He was also capable of some emotion, including tears,” she said.

Ashley Summers also described the scene as the family made the difficult decision to remove her husband from life support after talking with doctors, although the court documents don’t include medical details.

“They removed the bubble and a large group of his family and friends held a ceremony in Steven’s room,” she said. “He was definitely present for that and aware of what was going on, laughing and crying along with us.”

He died 13 hours later.

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