BANNING ( — A fire that tore through an abandoned department store where transients often seek shelter killed a person Saturday morning, Banning police said.

The fire was reported at 5:27 a.m. at the former Mathewson’s Department Store, a two-story structure located at 260 W. Ramsey St., according to Banning police Detective Mike Bennett. The burned remains of a body were found, but authorities were not immediately able to determine the gender of the victim.

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Bennett said transients often use the boarded up building, which has been vacant for years, when the weather turns cold. CalFire is investigating the cause of the blaze, but it could take a few weeks to determine, he said.

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