4 Now Confirmed Dead In Massachusetts Apartment Building

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The number of people who died in a fire at a Massachusetts apartment building last weekend has climbed to four with the discovery of two more bodies on Monday, fire officials said.

The search of the three-story, six-unit building in Worcester has been slowed by concerns about the integrity of the heavily damaged structure and the discovery of snakes inside, acting Fire Chief Martin Dyer said at a news conference Monday.

“Because of the devastation of the fire here, the building is not stable right now, so we are being meticulous in the way we approach the building,” he said. Investigators are removing debris by hand, he said.

The search was halted for a period Sunday when Animal Control was called to the scene to remove several live snakes discovered in the building, he said. He did not know if the snakes were dangerous.

The blaze was reported at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday and crews were in the scene within three minutes, Dyer said. The roof eventually collapsed. Two victims were found later Saturday. Four residents required hospitalization, including one who either fell or jumped from a third-floor window, Dyer said.

The victims' names have not been made public pending notification of family. About 20 people lived in the building and the Red Cross is helping several displaced residents.

Investigators, with help from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, are still trying to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Whether the building had working smoke alarms remains part of the investigation.

The building is considered a total loss and two neighboring buildings were also damaged, officials said.