Body found in rubble after Prudence Island house fire

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PRUDENCE ISLAND — Officials confirm that a body was found in the ashes of a west side Prudence Island house that burned Tuesday morning.

Richard James, deputy chief of the state fire marshal's office confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a body, likely that of a man, had been found. No further details on identity or cause of death would be available soon, he said.

Earlier, Police Chief Lance Hebert said that something had been found that warranted further investigation but he could not confirm that the remains of a body had been found. Later, police revealed that human remains had been found.

Prudence Island volunteer firefighters, assisted by Portsmouth crews, battled the fire Tuesday that had been reported just before 7:40 a.m.

By shortly after 8:30 a.m., witnesses said the house was completely destroyed by the fast moving blaze.

Not immediately known is the whereabouts of Shannon Cubellis, the man whom sources say had been renting the 0151 Concord Ave. house. The house is owned by Robert A. McNamara, town tax records indicate.

Portsmouth Fire Captain Michael O'Brien said fire crews were not immediately clear about whether the house had been occupied at the time of the blaze but did say they are trying to find the person who supposedly had been living there. He said he could not provide that person's name.

Capt. O'Brien said the search for a cause will likely take considerable time given the extent of damage. There literally is nothing left of the old structure, he said.

The house, one of the early Prudence Park summer houses dating back to the late 1800s, was a two-story Victorian. Concord Avenue is located off Bay Avenue, north of Broadway.

The first firefighter on the scene described the house as "fully involved" in fire.

Complicating the mission, firefighters said, were live wires on the ground and a propane tank near the flames. At one point there was a report, not officially confirmed, that there might be ammunition inside.

Portsmouth sent six firefighters by boat from Carnegie Marina to help man the island's fire engines. The Prudence Ferry was briefly held up in Bristol in case more apparatus was needed but the ferry was released after being told there were enough engines on scene.

Also making the trip to the island was a Portsmouth detective.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.