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Ashley Lowery, Deseret News
Firefighters work to put out a house fire in West Valley City on Tuesday.

WEST VALLEY CITY — An endangered person alert has been issued for a woman who vanished about the time her house caught fire Tuesday afternoon.

For several hours, police and firefighters feared Nichi Edwards, 37, had been trapped in the blaze. An alert was issued late Tuesday after no one was found inside the house.

The bizarre scenario began about 3:30 p.m. when fire broke out at 1606 W. Heron Way (2450 South). The woman's husband told investigators he'd left to mail a package. When he returned 10 minutes later, he found the house in flames, said West Valley Assistant Fire Chief Kris Romijn.

The man said his wife was in the master bedroom lying down when he left. Investigators believe the fire started in that bedroom. During the fire, the roof collapsed and the swamp cooler fell into the master bedroom, Romijn said.

Edwards has a disability that causes her to move slowly. Police say she is unable to drive a car and seldom leaves the house.

After several searches, investigators said around 10 p.m. they were "100 percent certain" the woman was not inside the house, said West Valley Police Lt. Mark VanRoosendaal.

"We haven't found anything inside the house to indicate the victim is inside," he said.

Officers conducted door-to-door searches in the neighborhood looking for the missing woman. VanRoosendaal said Edwards has to be "highly motivated" to leave the house. Even when she does, she stays close to home. Police declined to expound on the woman's condition, citing privacy laws.

Edwards was last seen wearing a pink shirt, pink pants and white shoes. She is about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. Police attempted to reach her by cell phone but were unsuccessful.

An accelerant-sniffing dog searched the home but detected no accelerants. Police also obtained a warrant to search the house but were waiting to execute it late Tuesday until firefighters were finished at the scene.


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