VALDESE — The body of a woman was found at the site of a structure and woods fire in Valdese on Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters from multiple agencies worked to contain the fire, which consumed a garage and part of the woods near where the woman's body was found, according to Burke County Fire Marshal Mike Willis. 

Virginia Golightly, whose home is near the garage on Windy Hill Drive, said she noticed flames around 2:30 p.m. 

Golightly said the flames looked like they were coming from a small trash or brush fire, and she did not hear anyone panicking. 

“I was worried it was going to come up this way,” she said. “It was growing really rapidly, and it sounded like firecrackers — popping.” 

Willis said because the woods are so close to the garage, he does not know where the fire started.

After the fire burned for about an hour, neighbors reported hearing an explosion. It currently is unclear what caused it.

The N.C. Forest Service, Burke County Sheriff’s Office, Burke County EMS and State Bureau of Investigation all arrived to assist at the scene.

Small flames and heavy smoke still could be seen coming from the garage around 4 p.m. 

Ryan Wilusz is a staff writer and can be reached at rwilusz@morganton.com or 828-432-8941. 

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