From Kawartha Lakes This Week:

Locals are calling a fire that claimed a woman's life in Sturgeon Point among the biggest they've seen in 50 years.

Kawartha Lakes OPP have yet to release the woman's name after fire erupted in a home on Sixth Street in the village late Wednesday night.

A cadaver dog, brought in by the Fire Marshal's Office yesterday, found the victim in the basement of the home.

Neighbours who spoke to This Week say they believe the Sturgeon Point double-lot property is owned by Carol Heimler and her husband Bob, both of Toronto.

Asst. Fire Chief Ron Raymer, who remained on scene for more than 12 hours after the fire broke out, says neighbours told officials a family had been staying at the home on the weekend.

He says it appears a woman stayed behind at the cottage on Sixth Street into this week.

Local residents say they first saw signs of the blaze at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Brent Savoy lives on Irene Avenue, around the corner from the Sixth Street. He says his three cocker spaniels seemed "worked up over something" late Wednesday evening.

"My dogs had been acting funny all evening and then at about 11:10, 11:15, I thought I smelled smoke," he said.

Joe Rivard, who lives with Mr. Savoy, says both he and Mr. Savoy noticed a massive arc of flame in the night sky when they peered out their back window onto the property that sides with the Sixth Street address.

Mr. Rivard said he phoned 911 immediately.

"After calling emergency, I came out onto the driveway to look closer, and the heat was just unbelievable...It was hot enough that you couldn't walk on that side of the road. It was like when someone throws a log on the fire and it heats up - just like that," Mr. Rivard said.

Another neighbour on Fourth Street, Mr. Savoy says, said he saw the "reflected glare" of the fire on his TV screen from his address several blocks away, just before midnight on Wednesday.

Now neighbours and residents of this small, sleepy cottage community of 400 are left to gape at a local home that has been reduced to ash and rubble.

Very few cars or people dotted the small, intertwined streets of Sturgeon Point late Thursday morning.

At its height, Mr. Savoy says, only about 90 to 100 people live in the village year-round.

Mr. Savoy says "at any time of year, this can feel like a very isolated community."

Mr. Savoy and Mr. Rivard say that fire trucks took about 20 minutes to arrive from the time Mr. Rivard phoned 911.

Kawartha Lakes Fire Chief Dave Guilbault says emergency response received word of the fire at 12:08 a.m. and crews from the three divisions involved - Fenelon, Cameron, and Bobcaygeon - arrived on scene at 12:22 a.m.

"From the time of the emergency page to the time of crews arriving at the location, it was clocked in at 14 minutes exactly," Chief Guilbault says.

The Fire Marshal's office is now investigating, alongside City of Kawartha Lakes OPP, fire officials say.

According to Asst. Chief Ron Raymer, it will be several days before the Fire Marshal's unit completes their investigation into the cause of the blaze.

Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue did respond to the home in a separate incident about a year and a half ago, Asst. Chief Raymer says.

Asst. Chief Raymer would not comment as to the nature of the call crews responded to, however.

The OPP intends to release details of the woman's identity on Friday, pending next of kin notification.

OPP Const. Ted Schendera said a female homeowner had been reported missing in the area by family members sometime on Thursday.

He added remains found at the scene have been taken to Ontario Chief Coroner's Office in Toronto for forensic analysis and identification.