Elderly couple killed in Windermere house fire, police say

Main Street shut down after fire

WINDERMERE, Fla. – An elderly couple was found dead after a home caught fire near downtown Windermere early Saturday morning, Windermere police said.

Police said the fire started before 12:45 a.m. in the 1000 block of Main Street.

Lane Rickerson, who lives down the road from the home, said his wife woke him up to the news.

"She said it looks like an orange fire ball," Rickerson said.

Officers said they arrived at the home and tried to see if anyone was inside. Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden said the home was too engulfed in flames for officers to get inside.

"They tried to break a window and it was too hot to the touch," Ogden said. "They had to get out of there."

Ocoee Fire Department and Orange County Fire Rescue crews arrived at the home to put out the fire, police said.

Police said Ken Ward, 71, and Susan Ward, 69, were found dead inside the home.

Ogden said the amount of trees and foliage near the home made it hard for firefighters to get a handle on the fire.

"It's a difficult location to get into, make entry into. We can't get some of the equipment in there," Ogden said.

Ocoee firefighters were at the scene hours after the fire. Ogden said the home is still smoldering and they are checking hot spots.

Crews will continue monitoring the structure for the next few hours.

Windermere police, along with local and state fire marshals, are conducting a death investigation. The cause of the fire is unknown.

"We really have nothing; it's too early. We still haven't been in there. We don't expect any foul play at this particular time, so it's going to take some time to really sift through this investigation," Ogden said.

A portion Main Street near the home was blocked off following the fire. Drivers were being redirected through neighborhoods to get around the scene.

"Everybody's in shock," Rickerson said.

Rickerson said he had just spoken to the people who lived inside the home Friday afternoon and he can't believe they're gone.

"It just lets you know that life is short. You got to enjoy every day you got because you just never know," Rickerson said.

Stay with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the female victim's age was 69, not 70 and the male's age was 71, not 72. The police department originally reported that the woman was 70 and the man was 72.