An elderly woman has died from injuries she suffered last week when a fire broke out in her room at an assisted-living facility in Gorham, the state Fire Marshal’s Office said.

Lynda Muccino, 84, died Wednesday at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she had been hospitalized since the fire Friday night at Gorham House on New Portland Road.

Muccino was treated for smoke inhalation and burns on about 35 percent of her body, said State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas.

Investigators determined that the fire was started by a table lamp that fell onto Muccino’s bed and ignited the bedding, Thomas said in an interview Wednesday night. At the time of the fire, Muccino was either under the covers or was near the bed. She was transported to the hospital by ambulance Friday night.

Thomas said investigators with the Fire Marshal’s Office have determined the cause of the fire to be accidental. Thomas did not know if Muccino was on oxygen support.

There was a working smoke detector in her room, and the building is equipped with fire suppression sprinklers, Thomas said, although he didn’t know if there was a sprinkler in Muccino’s room.

Even though the fire was confined to Muccino’s bedroom, all of the Gorham House residents had to be evacuated to a safe area within the facility, Thomas said. All nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Maine are designed to have an inside area that is smoke and fire-proof where residents can go if there is a fire or smoke in another part of the facility, he said.

“You can’t have a 90-year-old patient outside at night in the middle of winter,” Thomas said, explaining why the residents were moved to a protected area during the fire that was confined to one apartment. “You can’t just dump them out onto the front lawn.”

Such a building would be evacuated only if it became fully involved by fire, he said.

Michelle Belhumeur, the executive director of the Gorham House, said an alarm sounded around 10:30 p.m. Friday, triggered by a smoke detector in Muccino’s bedroom. The 170 residents and staff all evacuated safely and followed the facility’s plan for dealing with a fire, she said on Wednesday.

“There’s a lot of sadness here today,” said Belhumeur, who did not not want to comment further about the incident.

Thomas, who has worked in the firefighting field for nearly five decades, could not recall another fatal fire that occurred at a Maine nursing home or assisted living facility during his career.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is tasked with investigating complaints filed against a facility, but Thomas said that Gorham House has a record of operating a safe facility. Gorham House offers different levels of care to residents including independent living, assisted living, nursing care and memory care.

“They’re very well up to code,” Thomas said.

In April 2019, Assistant State Fire Marshal Richard McCarthy conducted a Life Safety Code and Emergency Preparedness survey to determine if Gorham House was complying with federal requirements governing nursing facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs.

“Your facility was found to be in substantial compliance,” McCarthy wrote in a letter filed with the federal Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Gorham Fire Department did not respond to a request for more information about the fire.

This is the fifth fire-related death in Maine in 2020, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard contributed to this story.

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