A 91-year-old man died early today when a fire raced through his wood-frame house near Ridgely, Caroline County.
The body of David Gould was recovered from the rubble of his house on Ninetown Road, about a mile northwest of Ridgely, about 3:30 a.m.
According to Robert Thomas, deputy chief of the state Fire Marshal's Office, a neighbor heard Gould screaming shortly before 3 a.m. and looked out her window to see flames covering his home's first floor.
Firefighters found the victim in his living room where he usually slept, Thomas said.
Investigators believe the blaze started in the flue of a wood stove in the kitchen.
Charles Dean, for 12 years a county commissioner, said Gould was a "very respectable man, a dependable farm hand who goes way back in this county," once a vibrant fruit-growing area.
He said Gould last summer -- at the age of 90 -- mowed people's lawns and was a regular visitor to the town's business district.
"He stayed mobile for an old gentleman," Dean said. "He was a good neighbor."