OXFORD — Authorities said Thursday that the cause of Wednesday’s house fire that took the life of homeowner Peter Lowe cannot be determined because the structure sustained too much damage. 

In a news release Thursday, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said the State Fire Marshal’s Office believes the fire started in the bedroom, where the body of Lowe, 55, was found on his bed. He lived alone.

The state’s medical examiner said Lowe died of smoke inhalation and there was no evidence of smoke detectors in the home on Hogan Pond Lane.

Most of the houses along the quiet road are seasonal residences.

On Thursday, Oxford Fire Chief Scott Hunter said he suspects the fire may have been smoldering for several hours before neighbors saw it and called authorities.

When he arrived shortly after noon, the windows of the small, single-story dwelling were blacked out, a sure sign there was a smoldering fire inside, he said.

“As soon as we went in I broke out the door windows on the back to vent it out and within 10 to 15 seconds it was nothing but fire,” Hunter said. 

Responders did not immediately find Lowe when they were fighting the fire, but police believed he may have been inside. Neighbors said he had been seen earlier and his truck was in the driveway with the keys in it, Hunter said. 

Firefighters found Lowe on a secondary search after most of the smoke had cleared from the building, Hunter said. 

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