LEBANON — Investigators have identified the man whose body was found by firefighters inside his burning home Wednesday afternoon as James Avery, 58.

Firefighters were called to the property at 72 Shapleigh Road at about 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Once the fire was knocked down, firefighters searched the residence and crews located Avery’s body inside.

Maine Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland this morning said cause of the fire was determined to be arson.

Avery was a tenant on the property.  His remains were taken to the Maine Medical Examiner’s Office  for an autopsy.

“There are extenuiating circumstances about  the death we are looking at,” McCausland said. “We are hoping the medical examiner can resolve that today.”

Lebanon Fire Chief Daniel Matthews was first at the scene. In a news release, Matthews said he called a first alarm for extra manpower and water.

He said the fire was knocked down at about 12:30 p.m. — about 45 minutes after it was reported. Mutual aid companies were released an hour later, and Lebanon crews were able to leave around 3:30 p.m.

The Maine Fire Marshal’s Office and Maine State Police are continuing to investigate.

Mutual aid was provided by Berwick, North Berwick, South Berwick, Acton, and Alfred Fire Departments, North Berwick Rescue and fire crews from Rochester, Milton, Durham and Somersworth in New Hampshire.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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