POLK COUNTY – The Polk County Sheriff’s Department released the name Wednesday, June 21, of the victim in a house fire that occurred early Thursday, June 15, in the Town of Apple River.
Bette Posey, 71, the homeowner, died in the blaze, according to an autopsy report.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found the home fully engulfed in flames, and subsequent investigation revealed that the fire claimed a victim.
“The death was apparently caused by smoke inhalation and thermal injuries,” stated Capt. Dale Hall of the Polk County Sheriff’s Department.
That cause of death is critical for investigators, and suggests that the victim was alive at the time the fire started, and was likely not “placed there” as a cover for a homicide or some other crime.
Capt. Hall confirmed that the body was so severely affected by the fire that they were unclear on who that victim was, although they have their ideas, they ware waiting until things like dental records assist in the identification.
Because the fire proved fatal, the state Department of Criminal Investigation is involved, and specifically the State Fire Marshall’s office.
According to the PCSD, the fire was called in at just after 6 a.m. that morning at 760 150th Avenue, and while the Apple River Fire Department was the initial responding agency, the Amery Fire Department also assisted in extinguishing the blaze, although the home was totally destroyed.
Shortly after the fire was extinguished, they were informed that there may be a person inside, and the state Arson Investigation Unit assisted in that search, where they found the victim, who was then taken to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and identification.
Agencies assessing on the scene included the Apple River Fire Department, Amery Fire Department, Amery Municipal Ambulance Service, Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the State of Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation Arson Investigation Unit, who have continued to assist the PCSD with the investigation.
Capt. Hall confirmed that they had also not yet determined the cause of the fire.