Crime & Courts

Body found by insurance adjuster days after Charlotte house burned to the ground

image to accompany breaking news
image to accompany breaking news

Human remains were discovered by an insurance adjuster on Tuesday at a house where Charlotte firefighters doused a major fire on Saturday, police said.

The adjuster called 911 just after 10:30 a.m. to report finding the remains in the 6100 block of Kenley Lane, according to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department news release. Kenley Lane is west of Old Pineville Road near Interstate 77 in southwest Charlotte.

Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office staff responded to the scene and confirmed the presence of human remains, police said. Officials are working to identify the body, which had been burned, city public safety spokesman Rob Tufano said.

Police and the Charlotte Fire Department’s Fire Investigation Task Force “are on the scene actively investigating the incident,” police said in Tuesday afternoon’s release. The cause of the fire has not been determined yet.

By the time firefighters got to the house Saturday morning, it had been fully engulfed by the fire so firefighters extinguished it from a safe distance, Charlotte Fire Battalion Chief Phil Bosche told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters at the scene typically evaluate the risk and decide whether it’s possible for someone to still be alive inside, Bosche said.

“It was not safe to have a firefighter go in there to look for a victim in what would be an untenable environment,” he said.

Once the fire was out, firefighters went as far into the house as they could, but they weren’t able to go all the way inside the “incredibly compromised” structure, Bouche said. It wasn’t safe for fire investigators to go all the way into the house, either, chief fire investigator Paul Wilkinson said.

The fire department tweeted at around noon Saturday that the “structure was unoccupied at the time of the fire.” It’s not yet clear how the insurance adjuster was able to find the body when fire officials did not.

The house had recently been sold and was under construction at the time of the fire, in the process of being turned into offices, Wilkinson said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 704-432-8477 or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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Jane Wester is a Charlotte native and has been covering criminal justice and public safety for The Charlotte Observer since May 2017.