Man Found Dead Near Detonated IEDs After Fitchburg Fire, Explosions

"It appeared that whoever put these together knew what they were doing," the local prosecutor said

A person was found dead near improvised explosive devices following a massive fire and series of explosions in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, authorities said Monday evening.

The man was found on the third floor of the Beekman Street building, underneath a collapsed roof, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said. The DA explained that investigators discovered two IEDs, which had detonated, along with propane tanks.

"It appeared that whoever put these together knew what they were doing," Early said.

A source had told the NBC10 Boston Investigators that the IEDs were found around the man's body. Early told reporters he was not sure whether the devices were attached to his body.

The blaze was reported around 5:45 p.m. Sunday. It ripped through the building, leaving as many as 60 people without a home. Twenty-two units were uninhabitable, authorities said.

Two people were hospitalized in the blaze and one person was rescued from the third floor, where flames and smoke billowed from the building. Officials said they believed the inferno began on the third floor.

"There was a huge boom and the ceiling collapsed in my apartment," said Molly Benevides, who was sitting on her couch eating dinner when the explosions started. "I couldn't open the door."

Fearing more debris would fall, she hid under a bed.

"The smoke started pouring in," she said. "I knew it wasn't going to stop. I realized I had to get out of there, so I went to the window, I pushed the AC out."

She was rescued by firefighters who had just arrived.

"I can't explain how good it is to see people coming to save you."

"I just want to extend my condolences for the family members that may be remaining for the individual who passed away," Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale said. "We're certainly happy that there wasn't a greater loss of life, and it could have been much worse than it was."

The man who died has not been positively identified, Early said, and he couldn't confirm that he was the one resident who had been unaccounted for after the fire.

The medical examiner is working to identify the body, and Early added that no other suspects were being sought. The bomb squad was working to remove the remnants of the devices, while the investigation remains in its early stages.

In addition to state and local authorities, officers from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting with the investigation, Early said.

The blaze caused heavy damage to the third floor and roof of the building. Smoke and water damage were reported on the first and second floors, according to Fitchburg Fire Chief Kevin Roy.

The building used to be a school before it was transformed into a 24-unit apartment building, Roy said.

Crews continued to douse hot spots at the building Monday morning after the fire had reached four alarms Sunday night.

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