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Martinsville fatal fire victim identified

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

MARTINSVILLE, VA – The remains found in a house fire in Martinsville have been identified.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke identified the victim as 79-year-old Rita Cox Sands.

The incident occurred on October 14 at 405 Forest Street.

Authorities say they are awaiting an official autopsy report showing cause and manner of death.



MARTINSVILLE, VA – On Wednesday, the Fire Marshal division of Martinsville Fire & EMS concluded that a fatal house fire was caused by an overloaded outlet.

City and Henry County crews were called to 405 Forest Street around 6 a.m. on Friday, October 14.

A woman's body was found after firefighters got the blaze under control.

Burn patterns along with other evidence supports that the fire was accidental and originated within the woman’s bedroom located in the back of the home, according to officials.

Fire investigators say they located an electrical outlet in the fire debris that showed evidence of an unspecified failure involving the receptacle being overloaded.

The fire spread from the outlet to nearby wood, furniture, and then to the rest of the home.

The body was sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

No other information about the victim has been given.

“We would like to ask the community to share in our thoughts and prayers for the family during this tragic event,” stated Fire Chief Ted Anderson.

Fire Marshal, Andy Powers, would like to remind everyone to please remember to be extra careful with cold weather and the holiday season being upon us.

“Have your heating systems serviced by qualified technicians, make sure you have working, in date smoke alarms within your home, and if you need a smoke alarm, contact us at 276-403-5325 or the Henry County Department of Public Safety at 276-634-4660. Give space heaters space and use all heating and cooking appliances per manufacture’s specifications,” said Powers.



MARTINSVILLE, VA – A woman died in a house fire in Martinsville early Friday morning.

Martinsville Fire and EMS along with Henry County emergency services were called to 405 Forest Street at 6:08 am.

After crews got the fire under control, they say they found a dead person that was unidentifiable.

The woman's body has been sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Martinsville Fire and EMS is investigating the cause of the fire and the Martinsville Police Department is conducting a death investigation.

Authorities said no foul play is suspected at this time.

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