Fire officials identify fatality in South Blossom Street East Providence fire

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EAST PROVIDENCE — City resident Ronald Duarte, 68, died of injuries he suffered as a result of a fire at his residence on 106 South Blossom St. Thursday morning, Jan. 24.

Acting East Providence Fire Department Chief and Fire Marshal Oscar Elmasian said Mr. Duarte was home alone at the time of the blaze, which took place at approximately 10 a.m.

Chief Elmasian said his department received a call from one of Mr. Duarte's neighbors of a possible structural fire early Thursday. Engine companies headed towards the scene could see smoke coming from South Blossom as they approached the street from Warren Avenue.

Neighbors informed first responders of the possibility that an occupant was in the house, Chief Elmasian continued. Emergency personnel were able to contact one of Mr. Duarte's family members by cell phone, asking where he might be situated in the home.

Chief Elmasian said firefighters were told Mr. Duarte was likely in a rear bedroom. The victim was found immediately and rushed by ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment. He was declared deceased there.

Chief Elmasian said no official cause of death has been determined. He also did not want to speculate on the cause of the fire, though Mr. Duarte was known to be a smoker and a lighted cigarette may have played a role in starting the fire.

Chief Elmasian did confirm the blaze ignited in a front room of the house, away from the back bed room where Mr. Duarte was found. Chief Elmasian said EPFD Assistant Fire Marshal James Bellamy was still on scene determining if smoke alarms were present and working in the home.

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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.