Fatal San Jose fire no longer deemed suspicious

March 6, 2010 12:46:38 PM PST
A fire at an East San Jose house that killed one person is no longer considered to have been suspicious because there's no evidence at this point to indicate that arson was involved, San Jose Fire Department Capt. Robert Culbertson said Saturday.

However, Culbertson said the cause of the blaze at the single-family home at 790 Linda Vista St. at 6:40 p.m. Friday hasn't yet been determined and the incident is still under investigation.

He said authorities believe that the person who was killed was an 87-year-old woman who lived by herself but the victim's identity hasn't yet been officially confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office said the victim might not be identified until Monday.

Culbertson said an autopsy and a toxicology report "will be a significant part of the investigation" to determine whether the fire really was suspicious.

He said fire officials initially said the blaze was suspicious because multiple residents in the area reported that they heard and felt an explosion.

"They said it felt like an earthquake or like a freight train went through the house," Culbertson said.

He said the evidence at the scene supports the possibility that the fire resulted from an explosion because of the pattern of debris at the house and the fact that household items, such as a lampshade, were strewn about.

The house and its contents are a total loss, according to Culbertson.

He said firefighters did a good job of preventing the blaze from spreading to adjacent houses, although there was some damage to fences at homes next door.


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