NEWTON — Firefighters struggled against heavy smoke and flames to rescue a 92-year-old woman from her burning Newton Centre home early Saturday morning, carrying her out of a second-story window, before recovering her son’s body from the house, officials said.

Investigators with the state fire marshal’s office were searching for the cause of the fire that ripped through the single-family home at 115 Oxford Road, where firefighting efforts were made more difficult by “hoarding conditions,” the Newton Fire Department said in a Twitter post.

“It’s such a tragedy,” said Linda Ross, who lives a few doors down from the home. “It’s so overwhelming when you see what can happen.”


The woman who was rescued was hospitalized in critical condition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said Meghan Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney’s office.

Officials did not publicly identify the woman or her son whose body was found in the house, but Newton Fire Chief Bruce Proia said he was about 63 years old. The home had no working smoke detectors, Proia said.

Firefighters who responded to the scene around 4 a.m. Saturday, after receiving a 911 call, encountered intense smoke and flames, Proia told reporters at the scene.

Crews arriving at the scene sounded a second alarm, and minutes later, a third, Proia said.

It took about a half-hour to knock down the main part of the blaze, but firefighters continued to battle hotspots.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries while working at the scene, Proia said.

“It was a stubborn fire,” he said.

Laura Petrillo, 36, who lives next door, said she called 911 after her 10-month-old daughter woke her up. The sight of the blaze so close to her house forced her to flee with her baby, 3-year-old son, and 72-year-old mother.

When she looked out the window, all she could see was the color orange, Petrillo said, cradling her son in her arms.


“I was terrified,” Petrillo said.

When the family got outside, she said the air was filled with burning embers all around them.

“I’m just glad my family is safe,” she said, “and sad about the tragedy next door.”

Proia said that after firefighters arrived, they entered the home through the front door on a report that two people were inside.

Crews found the woman on the second floor and carried her outside through a second-story window, down a ladder, and into an ambulance, Proia said. Neighbors stood outside their homes watching firefighters work.

Crews attempted to make a rescue in the basement but were unsuccessful, Proia said.

“The conditions were extreme in the basement. They were fighting the fire, and at the same time, trying to effect a rescue,” Proia said. “They were forced out due to the heavy fire conditions.”

Benjamin Pushner, who lives next door on the other side, praised firefighters for preventing the fire from spreading to nearby homes.

The woman rescued had lost her husband a few years ago, he said.

The woman’s son had attended Newton Public Schools, was a Newton South High School wrestler, and had worked as a lifeguard in the city, Pushner said.

As Pushner spoke, small groups of neighbors gathered and watched crews at the scene.

“We’re all very sorry to see what happened,” Pushner said.

Ross described the woman and her son as quiet neighbors who kept to themselves.


“I just feel so sad for everybody,” Ross said, calling the residents “lovely people.”

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, who came to the scene, offered condolences on behalf of the city.

“This is not a good morning for the city of Newton,” Fuller told reporters. “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the two residents here.”

Fuller said the same Newton firefighters who worked on the Oxford Road fire had also responded to Monday’s fire at the Towers of Chestnut Hill on Hammond Pond Parkway.

She said she was proud of police officers and firefighters.

“They did everything they could to save both residents,” she said.

Globe correspondent Abigail Feldman contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.