Fatal fire determined to be accidental

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A 73-year old Florence woman was identified as the victim in an early morning house fire today.  The exact cause of death won’t be determined until an autopsy is performed tomorrow.

Crews responded to the home, on 20th street just west of Highway 101 at 12:15 Thursday morning to find flames and heavy smoke coming from the older one-floor structure.  They discovered the lifeless body of Cassandra Hinkle in the rubble.  The blaze was stubborn to extinguish.  It was just over four hours before firefighters said it was out.

Investigators have determined the fire started on or around an exterior deck on the side of the home.  Earlier concerns were that it was suspicious but they say those concerns have been dismissed.  Deputy State Fire Marshal Kristina Deschaine says it now appears to be an accidental fire.  Samples and evidence have been taken from the scene to be  examined.

Hinkle lived alone with her cat.  Friends had feared the cat was lost as well, but she turned up unharmed later this morning.