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Two found dead in Bethlehem fire

A house fire at 775 River Road claimed the lives of two people early Friday morning.

Bethlehem Police discovered the bodies of Robert Newberry, 61, and Susan Newberry, 60, after area firefighters battled the intense blaze for about two hours.

A series of explosions occurred as fire crews arrived on the scene.

There were about five explosions when I pulled up, said Selkirk Fire Chief William Borger. "It took an hour to extinguish the flames and then another hour before it was completely out."

Firefighters believe the explosions were the result of oxygen tanks being inside the home at the time the blaze broke out.

Robert Newberry died of "extreme thermal burns," and Susan Newberry died of smoke inhalation, according to Bethlehem Police Lieutenant Thomas Heffernan. Police say the first victim was found in the living room area and the second was found in the bathroom near the rear of the house.

The house was a single-story ranch, and most of the fire damage appeared to be centralized in the middle of the home.

Borger said that Selkirk, Coeymans, and New Baltimore fire departments responded to the fire, and police received numerous telephone calls from nearby residents. Police say the calls came in at approximately 1:52 a.m.

There were about nine fire trucks on the scene, Borger said, and firefighters tapped into a nearby water hydrant about 100 feet up the road.

River Road was closed down while crews contained the fire, but no responders were hurt, according to Borger.

After the fire was put out, investigators from the Bethlehem Police Department's Fire Investigations Team and New York State Fire Investigators entered the home to determine its cause and discovered the bodies.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Heffernan said.

Police remained on the scene most of the day on Friday.

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