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Police hope autopsy will identify person who died in fire on Fleet

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Police are hoping an autopsy will identity the person who died in Thursday’s Fleet Avenue fire.

Police know the identity of the person who lived in the home but are not certain that individual was the one who perished, WPS spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said.

Michalyshen said the fire was intense and caused $380,000 to the home.

There are no suspicious signs that the fire may have been deliberately set, he said, but added that the arson strike force is involved at this point.

Cause of the fire remains unknown.

Fire crews took hours to mop up after fighting the fire for much of the night, which delayed a search of the burnt-out house.

Shortly after 2 p.m. police were able to confirm the fatality but there is no word yet on the identity of the deceased.

Neighbours reported the house had one occupant -- a single woman -- but authorities are unlikely to release any additional information until autopsy results are completed. An autopsy has been ordered.

Neighbours said earlier they hoped the woman lived in the storey-and-a-half home at 1228 Fleet Ave. was out of the house.

"I hope nobody was inside. Nobody can get out of there. It was huge, the flames," said neighbour Charlie Gatti, who rang 911 at 1:45 a.m. and ran out with another neighbour to rouse the householders on either side.

Gatti was dozing on his couch next to a front window that looks directly across to the house, when he was jolted awake by a blast, that sounded to him like two cars colliding. He looked out to see flames shooting out of the living room window straight up past the roof.

"I never seen anything like this," Gatti said. He said he punched in 911 to report the fire and then ran outside. By that time, another neighbour was also out of his house.

The pair shot across the street, banging on the doors of homes neighbouring the house on fire, which they could not get near.

Neighbours down the back lane behind the house said earlier today that they believed the home was empty at the time. One neighbour said the woman who lived there had been seen leaving around 11 last night, nearly three hours before the fire broke out.

Various neighbours reported the home, typical of the neighbourhood, had been up for sale until last spring when a woman in her 50s moved into the place. She said she was renting, neighbours said.

Police cruisers were parked at either end of the block and in the back lane hours after the fire had been put out Thursday.

Anyone with information, who hasn’t already spoken to police, is asked to contact investigators at 204-986-6813 or Winnipeg Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.

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Updated on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 8:22 AM CST: Corrects Fleet to avenue.

11:41 AM: updates with full writethru

11:46 AM: adds video

2:32 PM: Updates with fatality.

2:49 PM: Corrects day of week.

4:06 PM: corrects typo

February 1, 2013 at 11:48 AM: Updates

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