Smoking Identified as ‘Most Probable Cause' of Deadly Webster Fire

The Massachusetts Fire Marshal's Office said while the cause of the fire that killed Paul Duvall in Webster is officially undetermined, improper disposal of smoking materials likely led to the blaze

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Smoking likely led to a fire that killed a man last week in Webster, Massachusetts, investigators said Wednesday.

The May 19 fire on High Street left 60-year-old Paul Duvall dead, the office of Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said.

A woman was clinging to the roof of the three-family home when police arrived on scene. She was rescued using a ladder borrowed from a neighbor.

Authorities say the woman reported a man was trapped inside trying to rescue pets. Duvall was pulled from the building, but crews weren't able to resuscitate him.

"It is always terribly sad when we lose one of our residents in a fire and on behalf of Town of Webster, I offer heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victim," Webster Fire Chief Brian Hickey said in a statement Wednesday.

The fire marshal's office said the cause of the fire will officially be undetermined, but called the improper disposal of smoking materials "the most probable cause of the fire."

One person died in a three-alarm house fire in Webster, Massachusetts overnight.

The conditions were dangerous, Hickey said at the time.

"There was a lot of stuff on the second floor where they were trying to locate the person in the building — a lot of obstacles in there — and the fire was escalating pretty heavily below them," he said. "I felt the conditions were worsening to the point where I needed to pull my crews out of the building to make it safe for them."

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