Officials from the Alameda County Sheriff's office on Tuesday will release the name of the woman found dead in a Castro Valley house fire last week and ask for the public's help in solving the case.

Shortly after midnight Thursday, fire crews were called to the home at 2431 San Carlos Ave. to control a one-alarm fire that sent heavy smoke shooting from the eaves of the roof.

Fire crews found the woman's body while fighting the fire, which was controlled in about 20 minutes.

Sheriff's investigators later determined the death and the blaze were suspicious, said Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson.

In releasing the woman's identity at a news conference Tuesday, police will also likely announce if she died in the fire or was already dead when the blaze started.

The home belongs to Michael J. Rice, 60, according to online property records. Officials confirmed Monday that he is a retired San Francisco firefighter. He was not home during the fire and did not return a call for comment Monday. Nelson said the homeowner has not been named a suspect in the case.

No one else was injured.

A preliminary investigation shows an accelerant may have started the blaze, Nelson said. Additional information could be released Tuesday.

Anyone with information should call the Alameda County Sheriff's office at 510-667-3636.

Reach Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.



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