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Explosion Leads to Bellaire House Fire, Two Deaths

BELLAIRE – Two people died in a fire that officials believe started with an explosion on Friday.

Belmont County Coroner Dr. Amanda Fisher on Monday confirmed Roberta Ponsetti, 75, and Annette Ponsetti, 54, died in the fire at a home 65720 McGregor Hill Road, Bellaire, Pultney Township.

“Once our investigation is completed, we do issue a formal cause” of death, Fisher said. “As of right now that information is pending.”

According to published reports the fire victims were mother and daughter.

Both the Neffs and Cumberland Trail fire departments responded to the scene of the blaze that began in the afternoon. The cause of the fire still is under investigation, though some believe an explosion may have occurred.

Brian Bohnert, spokesman for the fire marshal office, said the fire marshal investigators are still working the case.

“We can confirm there was a type of explosion and then an ensuing fire, but the origin and direct cause are still undetermined and under investigation at this time.

“We can say, however, that there is nothing to indicate criminal activity of any kind,” Bohnert said.

Neffs Fire Chief Mike Knowlton was not at the fire station Monday and could not be reached for comment. Cumberland Trail officials referred questions to Neffs.

The Belmont County Tanker Task Force did not need to be activated for this fire as hydrants were nearby and working, said Allan Ketzell, coordinator of the tanker task force.

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