Two Found Dead After Massachusetts Four-Alarmer

Firefighters have found two bodies in the rubble of an Uxbridge converted farm house that was engulfed in a three-alarm blaze late last night, authorities said.

Rescuers had been searching all morning for a mother, said to be in her 40s, and her 6-year-old daughter. The Worcester District Attorney's office would not identify the victims at the scene today, but confirmed two bodies have been found.

"Positive identification has not been made. The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has accepted the case and will conduct autopsies and identify the two bodies," the DA's office said this evening.

State Fire Marshal Steve Coan, Uxbridge firefighters, state police, rescue dogs and authorities from surrounding towns are on scene at 629 East Hartford Drive, which erupted in an inferno around 10:30 last night. The conflagration tore through the apartment building and has been knocked down, but authorities are now focused on the search, said Jennifer Mieth, spokesperson for the state Fire Marshal's office.

Justin Hutchinson, 20, who lived in the building with his father and said he knew the woman and her daughter. "They lived on the first floor, right in the dead center of the house," said Hutchinson. "When the fire happened we all ran outside. I looked around and I didn't see them so I ran to the window and tried to open it but it was locked."

Hutchinson said people tried to go back into the home to rescue the young family, but the roaring flames forced them out.

Mike Burdett, who said he was a close friend of the family that owns the property, came to the burned out building this afternoon and issued a brief statement of their behalf. He said the family has owned the building for 52 years and various family members lived in the house until it was converted into five apartments.

"We are deeply saddened by last night's events," Burdett said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the tenants and the family that has lost loved ones and people who have been displaced. Until the investigations are completed by the authorities we have no comment on this and ask to have everyone's privacy respected."

Neighbors on East Hartford Drive told firefighters that the missing residents were seen early on Monday, but were not accounted for after the fire. The missing mother's vehicle was still in the driveway.

Paul Bouchard, of Mendon, who lives down the street, said the property that burnt down once served as the region's poor farm where families went to pay off debts they couldn't otherwise pay. "Then it was renovated about 10 or 15 years ago and it was in pretty good shape," Bouchard told the Herald.

The cause of the blaze is undetermined and authorities have yet to estimate the damage it caused, Mieth said.

Firefighters from at least 14 communities were called to battle the blaze. Tanker trucks were also used because of the lack of hydrants nearby.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 - Boston Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Loading