Virginia

Firefighters Find Woman's Body While Battling Motel Fire in Va.

A 35-year-old woman who was found dead inside a burning motel room may have hid inside a closet to get away from the flames, fire officials said. 

The fire started at the Lee High Inn, formerly the Anchorage Motel, on Fairfax Boulevard about 7:20 a.m. Firefighters believe the two-alarm blaze started in the room where the body of 35-year-old Megan Shuman of Sterling, Virginia was found.

"Early indications indicate that she was in the closet, perhaps trying to hide from the fire, unable to find her way out," Fairfax Fire Chief John O'Neal said.

An employee at the Meineke Car Care Center next door said he saw no fire when he arrived at 7:15 a.m., but fifteen minutes later it was ablaze.

"You could see flames coming through the roof, but mainly I saw the smoke as I was turning on the office lights," he said.

O’Neal said Shuman checked into the room Wednesday night. Her family has been notified.

The hotel is helping 25 other guests find new accommodations.

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Chris Schmitz, the owner of the Meineke, has worked at that location for 32 years.

"They've been a neighbor for a long time," he said. "But I feel really badly about what they're going through right now and understand there's been a loss of life. It's horrible."

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire investigators took out items to reconstruct the room in the parking lot.

The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death.

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