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Fire leaves man with double loss: home, dog

February 18, 2011

A double tragedy.

The heavily damaged home at 174 Ayrault Road stands as a monument to loss.
On the evening of Feb. 8 at about 8:30, its owner, Donald M. Lynch, 71, returned home from dinner to find heavy smoke coming from within his house.

Unable to enter his house after unlocking the door due to the heavy smoke, said police, Lynch called 911, but neither he nor East Greenwich Fire District personnel responding to the fire found his dog.
The dog was discovered dead in the house the next day, from smoke inhalation, said Fire Marshal Steve Hughes.
And worse, police reported, Lynch said the house’s insurance policy had lapsed, leaving him uncovered for the loss.
Police and fire officials had speculated that a high-wattage lighting system in the basement could’ve been the cause, but Hughes said Tuesday the exact cause of the fire probably could not be determined.
“Anything in the basement would’ve melted down to nothing,” said Hughes. “Do I think it’s suspicious? Absolutely not. (Lynch) had no insurance, and he lost his best friend and everything he had.”
Lynch has been staying with friends since the fire, and has a son who often visits, Hughes said.
The town building official’s office has declared the building structurally unsafe, but no town personnel have entered the house because there is no insurance claim, he said.
The building’s structural integrity is in question because firefighters reported the floor feeling “spongy” five minutes after they entered, causing Chief Peter Henrikson to order them out of the house, said Hughes.
In his report, Probationary Patrolman John Allen, the first police officer to arrive, said Lynch told him the house’s wood stove, which was running when he left the house at 5:45 p.m., had been installed two years ago and he had not any problems with it.
There were no signs of forced entry, said Allen.
The basement was flooded as a result of water pumped into the house, but was not drained in order to discourage any attempt to enter the structure, said Hughes.

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