RAYMOND - Fire officials are investigating the cause of a two-alarm blaze early Saturday that killed a man and sent a police officer to the hospital after he was overcome by smoke.
The fire was reported just before 1:30 a.m. after neighbors saw smoke pouring from a home at 37 Regina Ave.
Fire Chief Kevin Pratt said a police officer who tried to help rescue the victim started to make his way through a side door, but the smoke became too much. Pratt said the officer was sent to Exeter Hospital, but was released and later returned. The officer was not identified.
"The fire was through the whole house and underneath it," Pratt said.
The body of the resident, William Duguay, 56, who lived alone, was found inside a bathroom after the fire was put out, Pratt said.
Neighbor Les Oliver said his son spotted the smoke when he came home from work. They called 911, then raced over to try to rescue the man inside. Oliver said he used a large flashlight to bang on the doors.
"I beat on his house to try to wake him up, and I woke the neighbors up. We tried to get him out, but we couldn't open the door because the smoke was too thick," he said.Another neighbor came over to help when he heard Oliver.
"When the officer showed up, we tried to kick in the door. There were five of us trying to go through the door," Oliver said.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Max Schultz said clutter inside the home also made entry difficult.
"There was a lot of stuff inside the house. ... It made it very, very difficult to gain entry or egress if you're trying to escape. One of the things we'll be looking at is why was the person not able to escape? Was the egress blocked? Did he have smoke detectors?" Schultz said.
Nearly 40 firefighters responded from Raymond, Deerfield, Epping and Fremont. Firefighters brought the fire under control within about 40 minutes, Pratt said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state Fire Marshal's Office and the Raymond police and fire departments. Officials said the fire is not considered of suspicious origin.
Schultz said an autopsy will be performed on the victim.