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Victim in Wilson St. fire died from smoke inhalation, offials say

The autopsy on the body recovered from the Wilson Street home that was levelled after an explosion and fire earlier in the week is set for Thursday. The fire marshal's office confirms the cause of death is smoke inhalation.

ID on recovered body may take 'a couple of days'

A fire investigator from the office of the Fire Marshal sifts through the rubble from the Wilson Street house that collapsed Monday after an explosion and fire. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

The victim of the Wilson Street explosion and fire died of smoke inhalation, the office of the fire marshal confirms.

An autopsy is underway, but OFM fire investigator Richard Derstroff said the coroner's officer does not have a positive identification as of Thursday afternoon.

Regional coroner Dr. Jack Stanborough said it might take "a couple of days" for an identity to be established.

"In a fire death, dental x-rays are often used," he told CBC Hamilton Thursday morning.

If that is the method of identification used, assuming the dental x-rays are available, Stanborough said it takes some time for the analysis to be done.

Neighbours have identified the tenant of that house as Lynn Kingsbury, a "lovely" woman in her 60s who loved her pets.

The victim was found in the basement of the brick house on Wilson Street in an area that didn't collapse, Derstroff said.

The body was recovered around 4 p.m. Wednesday and taken to the morgue.

"It was unidentifiable, but certainly a human body," he said.

Deceased cats and dogs were also recovered from the home.

Around 12:30 p.m. Monday, neighbours said they heard a loud bang that sounded like a car crash, then saw shattered glass from the window on the street and the house on fire. Hamilton Fire said the house collapsed about half an hour after firefighters arrived.

Blown-out glass from the window can be seen on the road after an explosion at this Wilson and Victoria streets home. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

The OFM is conducting the investigation into the cause of the fire and explosion. Investigators have completed their work at the scene, Derstroff said. The Centre for Forensic Science and OFM engineers will continue lab analysis of appliances and other objects from inside the home and look for traces of natural gas.

"This takes some time," Derstroff said. "Samples can take up to six weeks."

While the investigation continues, neighbours who knew Kingsbury spoke fondly of her.

“She’s a lovely lady,” said Steve Brady, who lives on Victoria Street North, kitty corner to the home Kingsbury lived in. “My daughter knows her because she has a couple little dogs and we have a dog, and they’d meet in the park sometimes and talk.”

Debra Galvin, whose home shares a back alley way with the collapsed house, said Kingsbury is in her 60s and had been renting the home for about a year and a half. As far as she knew, Kingsbury was currently unemployed.

“Every time I went by and she was sitting out in front, I would pet her cats. She used to leash the cats and they’d be sitting outside,” Galvin said. “She was really friendly, really nice.”

Brady said the last time he spoke to Kingsbury, she was preparing for the holidays.

“She was so happy and couldn’t wait for Christmas,” Brady said. “It’s a shame unfortunately.”

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