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Two men killed in 2-alarm Fitchburg fire

Chemicals in the basement of the home prompted a hazmat response.

Two men died in a two-alarm fire at a Fitchburg home early Sunday morning, fire officials said.

Fitchburg firefighters received a report of a fire at 14 Highland Ave. at about 12:36 a.m., Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Dateo Jr. said.

Firefighters found two men in the home, one on the first floor and one on the second floor. Both were unconscious and not breathing, Dateo said.

Heavy fire was blowing out of the two front windows of the wood-framed house when firefighters arrived, and the blaze appeared to be extending to the rest of the building from a first-floor room on the right side, Dateo said.

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Officials found chemicals in the basement of the home that looked to be from an old photo lab, prompting a hazmat response.

Dateo said he did not hear an alarm ringing when he arrived.

“I think there was a deficiency in the system,’’ he said. “Either smoke detectors were taken down or something was a problem, because we found some on the floor.’’

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office, but it does not appear to be suspicious, he said.

Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal’s office, said in a statement about the cause that “the initial focus is an overloaded power strip but the investigation is ongoing.’’

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