Witness describes gruesome scene at fatal Edmonton house fire

Neighbour heard strange sounds outside and thought kids were playing with firecrackers. Then he heard sirens. And saw the body.

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions that may disturb some readers

'All I could see was his feet,' Travis Torrens said when describing a body engulfed in flames which was discovered in a Ritchie backyard Thursday night. 1:49

When Travis Torrens heard the wail of sirens, he peered out his window into the backyard.

About 15 to 20 feet from his back steps, he saw a body engulfed in flames.

"At first I didn't realize what I'd seen," Torrens said, through tears. "I thought maybe the back step was on fire.

"As I opened the door, and I could see clearly this man was dead under this small series of steps."

The body was fully engulfed in flames, he said.

"All I could see was his feet. I could see the feet of a person under these steps. The smell was so bad, it filled our house with a sickening burning smell."

Firefighters responded to the house at 98th Street and 81st Avenue in Ritchie at around 11 p.m. Thursday.

They called police when the body was found.

An autopsy confirmed the man died as a result of the fire. He has not been identified. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Homicide investigators are working on the case.
A body was discovered near this Ritchie neighbourhood home at approximately 11:00 pm Thursday. (CBC Edmonton )
Torrens said earlier in the evening he was watching television when he heard a strange sound outside.

"I thought kids were playing with fireworks in the backyard, just firecrackers or something going off," Torrens said in an interview with CBC. "I didn't pay attention to the sound, but it kept getting louder and louder."

Then he heard the sirens and saw the body.

Torrens moved into his home about six weeks ago. He said the house where the body was found has been vacant for more than a year.

Signs of smoke damage were visible on the home, as police remained on scene Friday morning. (CBC Edmonton )