Four members of a Kent County family apparently died early yesterday in a two-alarm fire that destroyed their rural Eastern Shore farmhouse.
Four bodies -- burned beyond recognition -- were found in thecharred ruins of the 2 1/2 -story home, said Deputy State Fire Marshal Bob Thomas.
The bodies were believed to be those of David Noe, his wife, and their 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, who had moved five years ago from Delaware to the frame farmhouse on Millington Smyrna Road, midway between the Kent County town of Millington and the Delaware border.
The names of the other family members were not divulged by authorities.
Mr. Thomas said the bodies were taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for autopsies and positive identification.
The blaze was first noticed about 3:20 a.m. when a passer-by spotted flames in the farmhouse's windows. Firefighters extinguished the fire within an hour, then found the bodies -- two in a second-floor bedroom and the others in a hallway.
"They were dead long before the fire department was ever notified ofthe fire," Mr. Thomas said. "The dwelling was completely engulfed in flames, and firefighters had absolutely no chance to make a rescue.
"The firefighters that first arrived at the scene found flames glowing from every window and, a short time later, the roof collapsed," Mr. Thomas said.
More than 70 firefighters from two counties and Delaware battled the blaze. Mr. Thomas said it may take several days for investigators to determine its cause.