Elderly couple killed in Methuen house fire

METHUEN — An elderly couple is dead after a two-alarm fire swept through their ranch-style home on Buttonwood Drive here early today, fire officials said.

The blaze broke out about 3 a.m. in a single-family home and quickly engulfed the structure.

“It would appear the victims, an elderly man and woman, were found in separate parts of the home,” State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said. “They could have been attempting to escape the fire.”

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He said a police officer on patrol spotted the blaze, and when firefighters arrived, the home was already enveloped in flames.

“Firefighters were driven back by the flames,” said Coan.

The victims were found after the fire was extinguished.

Coan said 11 people have died in fires in Massachusetts since Jan. 1. He said five of the victims have been elderly.

A couple in their 80s died in a Concord house fire earlier this month and a 90-year-old South Boston man succumbed to injuries Monday from a weekend fire.

“This has been a difficult year,” said Coan. “The elderly population has been vulnerable in these fires.”

Coan said the cause of the Methuen fire is under investigation by State Police troopers assigned to his office and the Methuen police and fire departments.