Woman who died in Parkmerced fire was apparently a hoarder

Officials are investigating the cause of a fire at a high-rise apartment building in San Francisco after a woman's body was found inside her apartment unit on Friday morning.
Friday, July 25, 2014
A body was found in an apartment unit at a 13-story high-rise building near the San Francisco Golf Club Friday morning after a fire broke out in a cluttered apartment.

Fire crews responded around 5:10 a.m. to a Parkmerced apartment building at 55 Chumasero Drive, off of Brotherhood Way.

Fire officials say there is evidence in the apartment that the woman who lived inside the unit was a hoarder.

Residents say they never saw fire, but it was an awful smell that got their attention. Residents said she had a lot of plastic items in her unit, so they think they were smelling burning plastic.

The fire alarm did go off at the high-rise apartment, but most residents didn't take it seriously at first.

"We were laying there for an hour because this happens often and then after that we realized that it smelled outside and we just came down," Dominique Cautivo said.

"Usually if there is a fire alarm we don't get out that much because it's a fake alarm most of the time, but today it was like serious, it was scary," Divya Vyas said.

The unit next door to hers was on fire and smoke was drifting out to the hallway. The woman inside the burning apartment home was found dead inside. Residents out on the sidewalk still questioning whether there was anything serious going on did not know the fire was a fatal one.

Residents say the victim has lived at the apartment for years, but they didn't know her well.

"She lives by herself, no children, no family and she usually keeps to herself, very private life," Vyas said.

"I've known her for 20 years and she kept to herself until the last couple of years, she was working for Macys as a sales woman," Sofia Frisher said.

As fire investigators rummaged through the apartment, they discovered multiple small fires had burned in the unit.

"When they broke opened the window they had to move things away and I could still see the pile everywhere, there was a lot of stuff," Vyas said.

No information about the woman has been officially released, but residents are speculating that she was in her 60s. Firefighters are still trying to figure out what started the fires. There was no other damage found to the building.

Bay City News contributed to this story.
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home apartment fire fire death hoarding San Francisco
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