Riding lawnmower blamed for fatal house fire

Woman inside the home was able to get out in time


EAST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. (CNN) – A freak accident leads to tragedy in a Massachusetts neighborhood Monday morning.

A man was killed after a malfunctioning lawn mower sparks a fire that spreads to his home.

Within minutes, several neighbors had called 911, but the flames spread quickly from the riding mower to the homeowner and to the house itself.

“I was kind of amazed how fast this house caught and went up,” Chief Tim Harhen, East Bridgewater Fire Department, said.

Bernardino Pellegrino did not survive the fire.

Investigators say the 86-year-old man was starting-up the riding mower when it somehow burst into flames.

“The fire ignited the deceased’s clothing.  The lawnmower was underneath the deck which ignited and caught the single-family home on fire,” Harhen said.

Chief Harhen says he doesn’t believe he recently used the lawnmower.

Only the victim’s wife was home at the time – she too called 911 and rushed outside to safety.

Their parish priest says family members are turning to each other, and to prayer to cope with this unthinkable loss on Monday night.

“It’ll take time for them to process all of this.  It’s still very fresh,” Father Paul Ring, of the St. John the Evangelist Church, said.

Neighbors say Pellegrino was the neighborhood patriarch, known for his love of working outdoors.

“He was a very feisty man, he was full of life and he was a very young 80-something year old and he had a great spirit and he’ll be missed.”

Fire officials say the home is a total loss.