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Body found in rubble of Haebaru residential fire

Date Posted: 2012-04-13

Fire investigators are trying to determine what set a two-story house ablaze in Haebaru Saturday night, and police are working to identify the body found in the fire debris.

Firefighters were summoned to the Tsukazan district of Haebaru Town by an emergency caller saying “a two-story house in our neighborhood is on fire.” An East Okinawa Fire Department official says the blaze was brought under control in less than an hour the 11:16 p.m. call.

As officials sorted through the ruins, a body was found. Yonabaru Police are now working the case. Investigators say the whereabouts of a man in his 50s who’d been living on the second floor has not yet been located. They say initial interviews suggest the victim is that man, but they’ve not been able to confirm it with an identification. A judicial autopsy is being scheduled to establish the cause of death, because damage to the body was extensive.

An elderly couple, both in their 80s, and a son in his 50s also lived in the house. Witnesses say that when the fire started, the wife helped her husband escape in a wheelchair, then tried to go back to the second floor to help their son, but the flames were too intense. Neighbors prevented the woman from going back into the house.

One witness, a 75-year-old neighborhood resident, said “as the flames rose fiercely from the second floor windows, we couldn’t do anything.”

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