By Nick Mallard


TOWNSEND -- A two-alarm fire in Townsend Saturday night is being investigated by the state fire marshal, though the lone resident of the home affected by the blaze says he is to blame.

Fire officials say a fire with flames showing through the roof at 20 Dudley Road came in just after 8 p.m. Saturday and left the single-family home there uninhabitable after torching the first floor ceilings and the attic.

Fred Darling, 61, said he was burning brush in his "burn barrel" Saturday and active winds later in the afternoon apparently spread embers to his lawn and house.

"The sparks spread when the wind picked up," said Darling, who lives at the address alone with several pet birds.

"It really tore up the ceiling and the roof. I guess it could have been a lot worse."

No one was injured by the fire, which sent out plumes of thick smoke.

Darling returned to the address Sunday morning to try to salvage what he could from the home. The state fire marshal had been called in to investigate, but Darling says the blame falls on him.

"I guess I'm still learning lessons even in the later levels of my life," he said Sunday morning.

The American Red Cross has helped Darling in the aftermath of the fire, providing a room at a hotel in Leominster.