Two people were killed early Tuesday morning in an apartment house fire in Palmyra, authorities said.

The fire engulfed the apartment building almost instantly. Many of the tenants had to escape through windows out into the dark, snow-covered yard.

Sgt. Ken Grimes of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said investigators still were gathering information about the two victims found in the building’s rubble. They have not been identified. He said the victims – a man and a woman – were the only residents who had not been accounted for when officials began investigating and their bodies would be taken to the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta.

Josh Lombard, who lived in the building on 81 Square Road with his family, said he woke up when the power went out. He said he leaves a light on at night for his children.

He said at that point he heard what sounded like dripping water. Shortly thereafter, he realized it was the sound of fire crackling.

“If we’d slept for five more minutes, we’d all be dead now,” he said outside the destroyed home.

Firefighters on Tuesday morning were still at the scene of the fire near the Canaan town line.

Most residents of the building escaped uninjured, according to a news release from Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. All told, he said, 11 people were living in the house.

The fire was reported about 3 a.m. and the building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, he said. McCausland said some residents reported hearing smoke alarms going off, while some did not.

Grimes said investigators are “not hopeful a cause will be determined” because of the size and scale of the fire.

Jordan Ballard said he awoke to the smell of smoke. With the power out, he said, he stumbled about in the dark and went to his door, where all he saw was smoke and flames. He said he climbed out his window, and Lombard helped him down. They then went around waking up other tenants, including the landlord, who lived there also.

Lombard has a 4-month-old baby and 6-year-old twins.

“I was lucky to get the kids out,” he said.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

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