St. John's — Police are investigating the death of a 67-year-old woman who was found in a city townhouse Thursday afternoon.
She was located by fire crews in the upstairs bedroom of the home on Cowperthwaite Court, near Elizabeth Avenue and Keegan Court.
RNC Const. Geoff Higdon could not say much about what happened, but said smoke may have been a factor.
“What I’m understanding is there wasn’t significant damage due to any fire as such, but there was smoke,” said Higdon, adding there may have been a small fire that was out by the time emergency crews arrived.
“But of course, once we do our fire investigation — we work with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine the exact cause of death — we’ll be able to provide more on that.”
Emergency crews — including the RNC, St. John’s Regional Fire Department, as well as paramedics with Eastern Health — responded to a report of a residential fire on Cowperthwaite Court at around 1:20 p.m.
Police are not releasing any information about the woman, but a neighbour told reporters she looked to be in her 50s. A police report Friday morning said the woman was 67 years of age. Higdon couldn’t say if the woman lived alone, but said there was no one else in the townhouse at the time.
Several residents from neighbouring homes were evacuated for safety reasons and tarps were placed on fences around the house for privacy.
A crowd had gathered in the area, including a small group who were believed to be the woman’s family. A few of them were seen crying and comforting each other.
Members of the RNC’s forensics team, as well as major crime unit — who routinely show up for fatalities — were there. The RNC’s fire investigator was also expected to be on scene.
Geoff Dwyer, who lives next door to the woman, was one of the neighbours evacuated.
He said was awakened by the sound of an alarm. He said not long after, he smelled gas in his house and assumed it was a carbon dioxide leak in the woman’s house. Carbon dioxide, however, is odourless. His mother-in-law called 911.
However, Higdon said there was no indication there was such a leak.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” Dwyer said. “Don’t know what happened. She was a sweet lady. It shows you that anything can happen in the blink of an eye.”
Note: This article was updated to include new information from a police report Friday morning.