NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - Almost 24 hours after intense flames trapped a woman inside a burning Pasco County home, cadaver dogs located remains buried under a pile of debris.
For hours Wednesday, fire crews methodically picked through the rubble, searching the burned debris for any sign of the woman who loved ones say was trapped inside.
“It’s a very slow process, we’ve moved some of the big stuff and now it’s all ash and stuff that were having to take rakes and shovels and go through it layer by layer,” said Pasco County Fire Rescue Division Chief Shawn Whited.
He says the overgrown property and the fact the entire second floor collapsed onto the first floor during the fast-moving fire made the process extremely labor intensive.
“There’s a lot of junk,” Whited said. “It’s a hoarder house, there’s just little trails through the yard to get back to the actual house, it’s just full of stuff."
The State Fire Marshall is using arson dogs to figure out what sparked the blaze. Officials tell FOX 13 News they’re looking at anything from intentionally set to accidental as a cause.
Just before 3 p.m., a cadaver dog was brought to the scene. In just 15 minutes, the canine located human remains in what’s left of the house.
“We pulled up and it was really hot, and Bruce was kinda freaking out, his wife was in there,” said Daniel Datema.
He says he and homeowner, Bruce Hansen, were away for about 15 minutes Tuesday evening when the house went up in flames.
Bruce’s wife, Cherie Hansen, was inside.
“It was so hot and so bad, I was just worried about Cherie,” Datema said.
Trapped and unable to get out, people who live nearby say they heard Cherie screaming for help.
Any hope loved ones had is now heartache. Late Wednesday, the medical examiner officially identified the body as Cherie.
“She was a really outgoing, joking, nice character,” Datema added. “She could find something to laugh about in anything, it was great. I loved her. She was awesome."