The charred remains of a man were discovered Tuesday in an Annapolis Roads house destroyed in a fire so huge that it was seen from the Eastern Shore.
Anne Arundel County fire officials would not speculate on whether the body was that of the 62-year-old homeowner, who lived alone and had not been seen since the Monday evening blaze. The body, located shortly before noon, was turned over to the chief medical examiner for identification and cause of death, said Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia.
Public records show Kenneth A. Riegert as the owner of the burned frame house at 2604 Ogleton Road, in the Bay Ridge area southeast of Annapolis.
"It's a terrible tragedy, no doubt about it," Tobia said.
It was the first fatal fire this year in the county, Tobia said. Last year, there were four, including one in October 2008 that also was in the Bay Ridge vicinity.
Tobia said the 58 responding firefighters were not troubled by strong winds and other problems that hampered efforts to battle a fire that destroyed two homes nearby last December. Since then, a new firehouse has opened close by.
The first 911 calls came about 5:30 p.m. Monday from nearby residents reporting the house engulfed in flames. Firefighters arrived within two minutes of being sent from the Annapolis Neck firehouse, which opened in May, and had a fireboat drawing water from Lake Heron.
Though the fire was contained in less than 90 minutes, firefighters continued searching through rubble for the man they were told was not accounted for and for the cause of the fire. The search was halted at one point because of fear that parts of the partially collapsed house would fall on firefighters. Tuesday morning, firefighters brought in privately owned search dogs that found the body, Tobia said.
Investigators combing debris Tuesday afternoon had "no idea" what caused the blaze, Tobia said, noting that "it's possible that we may never know the cause."
No other homes were threatened by the fire, he said; none of the 58 firefighters was hurt.
The fire was seen from across the Chesapeake Bay, where emergency dispatchers in Queen Anne's County had taken calls about it.