Man, 79, dies following house fire in North Smithfield

A photo posted by the Chepachet Fire Department shows the house engulfed in flames.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A fire that destroyed a home on Old Pound Hill Road early Thursday morning also took the life of a 79-year-old man who lived there.

Ronald Avis was pulled out of the burning house and taken to Landmark Medical Center, where he died from his injuries, according to reports from North Smithfield Fire & Rescue Chief David Chartier.

Avis was reportedly found by the entrance on the first floor of the structure when firefighters arrived at the scene around 4 a.m. on Thursday, July 1. The 3-alarm blaze destroyed the multi-family home at 28 Old Pound Hill Road, built in 1830 and currently owned by Paula Branchaud, according to town property records. Two other residents reportedly made it out of the two-story building without injuries.

Several neighboring departments responded to the scene to help fight the blaze, extinguished with water from tankers due to lack of a local water supply. At 8 a.m., smoke was still billowing from the residence, with multiple fire companies on scene

“It’s a total loss,” said Fire Chief David Chartier of the structure.

Chartier said dispatch received multiple calls reporting the early morning blaze.

With no fire hydrants in the area, firefighters had to call in tanker trucks, and long hoses ran from nearby Pound Hill Road. Up to 40 firefighters reportedly worked to get the flames under control at one point in the battle.

“We had some real challenges with that fire,” Chartier said. “It’s on a hill with narrow space. There’s no municipal water so it was very, very difficult to get the water that we needed up there to extinguish the fire.”

The chief said that with the help of mutual aid, the blaze was extinguished in around one hour.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Editor’s note: An original version of this article stated the house was built in 1930. We apologize for the error.

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