Neighbors gathered outside the house in the Dorset Farms neighborhood in South Burlington, stunned about the sudden death of the homeowner Sally Walker, 58.
"Sally is someone who we all hoped to have as a neighbor. She was quiet, she was active, she liked to bicycle, she was on the board of directors," said Lee Allaben, a neighbor.
Firefighters were called to the home on Catkin Drive just after 7 p.m. Thursday. Neighbors called 911 because the fire alarm inside the home had been sounding for 10 minutes.
"We found we had heavy smoke conditions inside the building, made immediate entry and found the victim right away and we were able to extinguish the fire in a minute or two," South Burlington Deputy Fire Chief Terry Francis said.
An autopsy was conducted Friday, but how Walker died is still unknown.
"We think it's related to the fire and not some other medical cause, so when the autopsy is done that should give us complete information," South Burlington Police Det. Ron Bliss said.
Fire investigators believe the blaze started in the living room, but what sparked it remains a mystery. However the fire is not considered suspicious.
"We have to determine the exact origin and cause of the fire. That's going to take some time. We are going to need some reports back from labs, information from the ME's office, so we can put the puzzle pieces together and get a complete picture of this fire," Francis said.
Walker's body was found just a few feet from where the blaze apparently started. Investigators are not sure how long the fire had been burning and whether Walker had a chance to escape the home where she lived alone.
"That's what we don't know and some of the pieces we have to put together," Francis said.
As investigators try to figure out exactly what happened, mourning neighbors try to come to grips with the loss of their friend.
"We are very sad she is gone now," Allaben said.
The medical examiner is expected to conclude the autopsy sometime within the next two to six weeks. How long it will take to determine the cause of the fire is still unknown.
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