MONTGOMERY, Mass. — The chief of a small Massachusetts town’s fire department has died while battling a house fire.

The state fire marshal’s office says Montgomery Chief Stephen Frye collapsed at the scene of a fire reported Tuesday night and was pronounced dead later at a hospital. The cause of the chief’s death remains under investigation.

Authorities say Frye had 17 years of service with the department in Montgomery, a town of fewer than 1,000 residents 100 miles (161 kilometers) west of Boston.

The fire started in a chimney from a wood stove and spread to the main structure. A woman and her adult son who live there were alerted by smoke alarms and escaped unharmed. The home is considered a total loss.

Preliminary findings indicate the fire was accidental.

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