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Victoria police ask for help identifying woman who died in shelter fire

The woman’s remains were discovered after a fire was extinguished alongside a professional building in the 1100-block of View Street, at Cook Street, on Nov. 11.

Victoria police are hoping jewelry and medical records will help to identify a woman who died after her makeshift shelter went up in flames on Nov. 11. 

The woman’s remains were discovered after the fire was extinguished alongside a professional building in the 1100-block of View Street, at Cook Street. Black scorch marks from the fire remain on the side of the building, which is lined with rock facing. 

Police determined the death was not suspicious but did not release any information about how the fire started. They believe the woman may have been unhoused at the time of her death. 

Autopsy results show that she had a history of ankle surgery with a plate and pins in her left ankle. She also had gold crowns in her lower right and left jaw. 

At the time of her death, she was wearing black Columbia boots, size 9.5, with black fur around the top and a purple portion on the heel and sole, police said. 

She was also in possession of a distinctive gold chain, with two large gold pieces on it and two pendants. 

Police said the woman had a Walmart shopping cart packed with her belongings and a high-back wooden bar stool that was supporting a light green tarp that she was using as a shelter. 

Weather records showed overnight temperatures dipping below freezing during the week of Nov. 7, rising to 3 C on Nov. 12, with wind gusts of up to 40 kilometres per hour. 

A week later, on Nov. 19, a man escaped a fire that destroyed a makeshift shelter along the former Canadian Tire store building on Douglas Street. The shelter was made of pallets and tarps and witnesses reported hearing an explosion that was believed to be propane cylinders used in a heating device. 

Anyone who recognizes the woman’s description or jewelry is asked to call VicPD at 250-995-7645 extension 1. Anonymous reports can be made to Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

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