Woman’s remains found in fire in abandoned El Cerrito building

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The body of an unidentified woman was discovered when authorities responded to a fire just after midnight on Monday at an abandoned building once occupied by a Taco Bell in El Cerrito.

El Cerrito police are now seeking the public’s help to try to identify the woman, whose body was badly burned in the blaze but who the medical examiner determined died from natural causes, not the fire.

Police were flagged down about the structure fire at 11965 San Pablo Ave. at about 12:11 a.m. Monday. The El Cerrito and Richmond fire departments arrived within minutes and extinguished the fire. The woman’s remains were found during an inspection of the area, and she had been burned so badly that “there was no way to identify” her.

“It is likely that the person did not have a home and was staying in the abandoned building for shelter,” police said.

The investigation is active and police are seeking to identify the woman in order to notify her family. What police know about her is that she is African American, possibly in her mid-30s, and has given birth to a child, police said.

Anyone with information can call the ECPD Detective Unit at 510 215 4400. They can email at investigations@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or they can call the Office of the Sheriff, Coroner’s Division at 925-313-2850.

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