Nfld. & Labrador

Artist and wife identified as Ferryland fire victims

The Ferryland Fire Department has confirmed that a married couple were found dead following an early morning fire Friday in Ferryland.

Stewart Montgomerie, 76, and long-time partner Marilyn Wilcott, 64, identified as deceased

A married couple has died following a fire in this mobile home in Ferryland early Friday morning. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The Ferryland Fire Department has confirmed that a married couple were found dead following an early morning fire Friday in Ferryland, on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula.

Dead are Stewart Montgomerie, 76, and his longtime partner, Marilyn Wilcott, 64, according to fire officials and residents.

Foul play is not suspected.

A sculptor and painter, Montgomerie's work includes the monument to the 1984 Ocean Ranger disaster, which sits near Confederation Building in St. John's. 

Fire crews were called to a mobile home on Pools Road just past 1 a.m. after a crab fisherman noticed an intense fire. The home was located near the Colony of Avalon archaeological dig.

When firefighters arrived the mobile home was completely engulfed in flames.

"Fire was going up in the air 25 or 30 feet. It was just pure fire," said Ferryland fire Chief Algy Windsor. "It was so intense it's unbelievable."

Windsor told CBC that crews finally knocked down the flames by 3 a.m. and found the first body a short time later. He said an hour after that the second body was located in a separate room.

'I lost two good friends'

Cyril O'Keefe knew both Montgomerie and Wilcott and both "never had a bad word about anybody."

"They were — both of them — very private people, very kind, easygoing," said O'Keefe.

He said they will both be "sorely missed" in their respective fields — Montgomerie for his sculpting and painting and Wilcott for her work at the Colony of Avalon.

Cyril O'Keefe says he knew Stewart Montgomerie and Marilyn Wilcott and both were 'very kind' people. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

"Stewart in the art world will be sorely missed … and [he will] probably be remembered long after he is gone" for his works, O'Keefe said.

He said Wilcott worked at the Colony of Avalon for over 20 years.

"She knew more about the artifacts than anyone else down there," said O'Keefe.

Fire fatalities first in 30 years

Windsor said the deaths are the first fatalities from fire in the area in more than three decades.

"I'm with the fire department now for close on 40 years," he said. "We're after having a lot of fires. There's structure fires or car fires and chimney fires. But we always dreaded the day that we have to go to a fire and find victims inside that died."

Windsor said the firefighters all knew the couple who died, which made for a tough morning for all those who responded.

"We lost two people out of the community, which is pretty sad," he said. "But we're dealing with it as best we can."