DERRY — A man and his dog died Friday in an early-morning fire that the state fire marshal blamed on careless smoking.
Officials identified the victim in the blaze that broke out at 357 Island Pond Road as 48-year-old Michael Lacharite. The state medical examiner concluded the victim died from smoke inhalation.
“The fire investigation has determined that the fire originated on a sofa in the living room of the residence and that the cause of the fire has been determined to be accidental due to misuse of smoking materials in close proximity to papers and rubbish,” State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan’s office said in a press release.
“No smoke alarms were located on the main level of the residence where the victim was located. One smoke alarm was located in the basement, but the detector was approximately 20 years old and not known if it was functioning,” the statement said.
A driver passing by called in the fire from a cellphone at about 1 a.m. after seeing flames coming out the roof of the single-family home.
When firefighters arrived three minutes later, flames blocked their way into the home.
“There were big, huge flames shooting out of the far end of the house and 30 to 40 feet in the air and moving all across the roof,” said Bill Poor, who lives around the corner on Bartlett Road. “The firefighters couldn’t get in at all.”
Search crews later found a body inside the ruins.
Fire officials said the first responders did not hear any smoke alarms in the home. Investigators couldn’t determine if there were any functioning alarms in the house.
Town property records listed Lacharite as the owner of the home.
Poor said Lacharite had lived in the home about 10 years, and alone since his wife, Karen, died last summer. They did not have children, Poor said.