DANVILLE – A Monday morning fire destroyed a large farm-style house at 52 Pine St., killing one person, officials said.
The name of the fire victim was with held pending positive identification. State Fire Marshall Bill Degnan, and Danville's fire dhief, Steve Woitkun and police chief, Wade Parsons, said in a statement.
The fire was discovered when a volunteer arrived to bring a meal to the 88-year-old resident of the home.
Ron Metcalfe, a Meals on Wheels volunteer from Plaistow, was delivering a meal to Audrey Anzalone on Monday morning as he said he has done every day for the past 18 months.
Metcalfe said he first noticed something wasn't right when he put down the meal for Anzalone, and she wasn't sitting where she normally did when he delivered her meals.
He said he called Anzalone and did not hear anything. Then Metcalfe said he heard and felt an explosion and fire.
"The house exploded," Metcalfe said. "Thank God I did not walk toward her room."
Metcalfe said he doesn't think he would have made it out of the house alive if he had traveled further inside at the time of the explosion.
The Kingston Fire Department was first on the scene, and Kingston Fire Chief Bill Seaman took command at the scene.
By the time fire crews were on the scene, Seaman said there was heavy fire, but that there were no explosions.
Seaman said he believed there was an elderly woman inside the house, but he couldn't say if she had been located at the time.
Crews from at least a half-dozen surrounding communities helped battle the blaze, and by 1 p.m, the front wall of the house had collapsed. Because there are no hydrants on the street, Seaman said there was a constant flow of tanker trucks bringing water to the scene.
While there was no official word on whether Anzalone was in the house at the time of the fire, Metcalfe said he believed she was, and that there was no way she could have made it out after the explosion he heard as the house caught fire.
"I couldn't find her, but she was in there," said Metcalfe.
Several neighbors gathered around Anzalone's Pine Street house as crews continued to fight the fire. O
ne neighbor who said he didn't want to give his name said he had been plowing Anzalone's driveway. Clint Arnold, who lives on the street, said he used to work at the house decades ago when it was a chicken farm, making 20 cents an hour to clean up after the chickens.
Arnold also said he believed Anzalone used to be a hairdresser and did his wife's hair.
Metcalfe described Anzalone as a good old Yankee who would tell things like they were.
As of Monday afternoon, firefighters had not determined the cause of the fire, but said they did want to talk to Metcalfe to see if they could gain any additional information from him.