- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

METHUEN, Mass. (AP) - State and local officials say a Methuen house fire that killed two people Wednesday doesn’t appear suspicious but they aren’t able to pinpoint the cause.

Fire Marshal Stephen Coan and Methuen’s fire and police chiefs said Thursday the home’s roof and first floor collapsed into the basement and the destruction left little evidence. It’s believed the fire started in the garage. It was spotted at about 3 a.m. by a police officer on routine patrol, and apparently burned undetected for some time.

Officials tentatively identified the victims as 82-year-old James McDermott and 79-year-old Thelma McDermott, a married couple who lived in the house. The medical examiner’s office will confirm the identities.

Coan said there apparently were no working smoke alarms. He urged people to check that elderly relatives, friends and neighbors have the life-saving devices.