Man killed in early-morning blaze
AMHERST A man is dead after an early morning house fire on Lower LaPlanche Street.
The Amherst Fire Department responded to the call at 69 Lower LaPlanche St. at about 4:20 a.m. yesterday morning. The fire was already in an advanced stage at the time, according to fire chief Bill Crossman.
"It was a totally involved structure," he said. "Fire was coming out of every window and every door."
The body of the man was located in an upstairs bedroom by firefighters extinguishing the blaze. Unconfirmed reports identified the man as Morgan Porter, approximately 29 years of age. The victim was the only person in the house at the time of the fire, according to Crossman.
Due to the intensity of the fire, it took firefighters about an hour to get the fire under control and much longer to extinguish it fully, he explained. Firefighters were on the scene until about 1:15 p.m.
One firefighter, Kelly Chappell, was injured on the scene when a falling piece of the building knocked him off of a ladder.
"They were working on part of an overhang, pulling on it to try and get the facial board off," said Crossman. "It let go and came down on him and took him down off the ladder, and took the ladder down as well."
Chappell was taken to the local hospital and later sent home with no serious injuries.
The origin of the fire was in the kitchen area, and was caused by a pot or frying pan left on the stove, according to deputy fire marshal Robert Orr, who ruled the fire accidental after an investigation yesterday.
"He forgot about it and went off to bed, and there were no smoke alarms, so that's the outcome we got," said Orr. "A very sad outcome."
The victim had apparently put water on the fire and thought it was extinguished before going upstairs to bed, according to Orr, who said it then smoldered until becoming hot enough to ignite again.
"It smoldered for quite awhile and by the time it reached ignition temperature the whole area would be very hot and full of gases, so it spread from the kitchen throughout the house," said Orr, who added that the building was also an older home, with sawdust for insulation.
The Amherst police were also on the scene yesterday, conducting a routine investigation, according to deputy chief Ian Naylor.
"Any time something like this happens you investigate until you determine what happened," he said. "You have to take all the precautions required in case it turns out to be criminal."