WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The number of people who died in a fire at a Massachusetts apartment building last weekend rose to four with the discovery of two more bodies on Monday, fire officials said.
The search for the three-story, six-unit building in Worcester has been slowed by concerns about the integrity of the heavily damaged structure and the discovery of snakes inside, acting fire chief Martin Dyer said during an interview. a press conference on Monday.
“Due to the devastation of the fire here, the building is not stable at this time, so we are being thorough in how we approach the building,” he said. Investigators remove the debris by hand, he said.
The search was halted for a period on Sunday when Animal Control was called to the scene to remove several live snakes discovered in the building, he said. He didn’t know if snakes were dangerous.
The fire was reported around 3:30 a.m. Saturday and crews were on the scene within three minutes, Dyer said. The roof eventually collapsed. Two victims were found later on Saturday. Four residents required hospitalization, including one who fell or jumped from a third-story window, Dyer said.
The names of the victims have not been released pending notification of the family. About 20 people lived in the building and the Red Cross is assisting several displaced residents.
Investigators, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are still trying to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Whether the building had working smoke alarms is still part of the investigation.
The building is considered a total loss and two nearby buildings were also damaged, officials said.
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