PENTICTON - The investigation that destroyed one Penticton residence and heavily damaged another turned into a mystery this afternoon.
Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson says a recovery effort today, Oct. 12, to find the body of an elderly woman believed to be in the rubble failed to find human remains.
The fire, which broke out at 3923 Lakeside Rd. around 6:15 p.m. yesterday, Oct. 11, engulfed the woman’s home before spreading next door, where it caused extensive damage before firefighters could extinguish it.
“Crews went through the structure diligently with heavy equipment in a systematic way. At the end of the day, we found no remnants of a body,” Watkinson says.
Reports indicated the 94-year-old woman had been inside the dwelling three hours before the blaze broke out.
Watkinson says there was a lack of closure for the department after not finding the woman, when it had been expressed with such certainty she was in the home.
Even though the fire was aggressive, well fuelled and burned hot, it wouldn’t have destroyed the body to the point that no evidence of it remained, he says.
The fire department’s investigation is complete and the matter is now in the hands of the RCMP as a missing persons case.
“Maybe there’s hope here now. We’re hoping someone has more information on this and will report it to the RCMP and help them with their investigation."
Watkinson says family members visited the home approximately three hours prior to the fire, leaving a three-hour gap regarding her whereabouts. The woman had mobility, vision and hearing impediments.
The investigation did reveal where the fire started, but couldn’t determine the cause of ignition.
“We’re not considering this fire suspicious, but there was a lot of fuel load, there was an enormous amount of debris in the home that created a very productive fire,” he says.
The fire department had been called to the house in the past to investigate complaints about the debris.
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