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Woman found dead after self-extinguished fire near Charlottesville High School

A woman was found dead in her fire-damaged house by Charlottesville High School on Monday.

The victim was discovered by her son who was visiting to check in on her, according to Charlottesville Police spokesperson Kyle Ervin.

“He entered the building around 6:45 a.m.,” said Ervin. “He went in to look for his mother, and he ended up finding her in the living room.”

Ervin said this was a case of a fire putting itself out.

“When the son arrived at the house, the fire was already out,” said Ervin. “It just went out on its own because it didn’t have enough oxygen to keep it going.”

By mid-morning Monday, the street-facing windows and doors of 1401 Melbourne Road showed no obvious signs of smoke or other damage, and there was just a faint a smell of smoke wafting in the air. However, just inside the open front door were deeply sooted walls.

“That’s what he entered into,” said Ervin.

The victim’s son was at the scene but declined to speak with reporters. Property records show that the house has been owned since 1980 by Jane C. Wells.

Ervin said that the victim’s body has been taken to the medical examiner to determine a cause of death and that the city fire marshal is investigating the cause of the blaze. Ervin said that a cigarette found at the scene will be one factor that investigators consider.

The last fatal local house fire occurred at 1175 Pen Park Lane on December 2 and claimed the life of 61-year-old James Patrick “Pat” Nunnally.


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