Friday, June 22, 2012

Woman Killed in Fire Identified

UPDATE: Investigators are probing the cause of a residential fire near Ashby and Shattuck avenues that killed a 26-year-old woman, injured two, and did substantial damage to the interior.
A woman killed by an early morning blaze in a multi-unit Berkeley residence has been identified as Meredith Ann Joyce, 26.
It appears that Joyce lived in Oakland and that the home where the fire broke out is her boyfriend's, but that hasn't been confirmed,  a spokeswoman for the Alameda County coroner said.
Investigators today spent much of the day sifting through debris left by the two-alarm fire, but it could be days before they determine the cause.
Firefighters arrived at 2:36 a.m. to find heavy fire and smoke blowing out the back of the three-story Lorina Street home near Ashby and Shattuck avenues, Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said.
They managed to pull Joyce from the third floor attic area of the house, but she did not survive her injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. 
Two other people sustained non-critical injuries in the fire and were taken to Alta Bates Hospital by ambulance. One suffered smoke inhalation and the other sustained minor burns, Dong said.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control within about an hour. Eight people were inside the residence when the fire started, including the woman who died -- five residents and three visitors.
"It was pretty intense, and was out in an amazingly short time," said Mark Coplan, who lives to the immediate south of the structure. Neighbors worried that the flames would jump to a large adjacent tree, and spread from there, he said.
Losses have been pegged at a minimum of $600,000 to the property and $200,000 to its contents. The building was not a Victorian but was built in that era, with open-framing construction that allows fire to spread rapidly, Dong said.
"It is painstakingly tough" to analyze such copious amounts of debris, he said. Investigators "are being very diligent in the process."
Dong said it was unclear whether there were functioning smoke detectors in the home.
"Tragically, we lost a life in a fire," he said. "We try to remind people to check their smoke detectors."
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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