The male victim of the Cheektowaga house fire Tuesday was so badly burned that authorities will have to pursue DNA samples to confirm his identity, police said Wednesday.
Two people, believed to be an unmarried couple in their 60s, died when flames consumed their rented home at 27 Furlong Road early Tuesday morning. The woman has been positively identified, Assistant Police Chief James Speyer said, but her name won’t be released until relatives are notified.
Autopsies performed this morning by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the woman died from smoke inhalation and the man died from burns, Speyer said.
The man couldn’t be identified through dental records, so police are attempting to track down a relative of his so that it can be done through DNA.
“We’re working on that right now, but it will take time,” Speyer said.
The woman’s body was found in a back room on the first floor of the house; the man’s was near the front door, Speyer said.
Meanwhile, an investigation continues into what sparked the blaze, which gutted the 1½-story house and caused the first floor to collapse into the basement.
“The couple ... was known to have oxygen bottles in the house. They were known to be smokers,” Speyer said.
But the exact cause of the fire remains unknown.
“We may never know,” Speyer said. “The oxygen tanks may have contributed to the ferociousness” of the blaze.