Mother-of-four perishes in shop blaze
Victim: Barbara Sartoris

The death of a popular mother-of-four in a fire at a general store has rocked the community of a small township in Victoria's north-east.

Barbara Sartori perished in the blaze which ripped through the historic Whitfield general store, just before 4am on Monday.

"Police can confirm what appears to be human remains have been located at the scene of a fire in Whitfield this morning," police said in a statement earlier today.

The 54-year-old, a renowned local cook, left the shop at 9pm last night and returned shortly before the fire broke out at 4am this morning.

Grave concerns for her welfare were raised when her car was found parked across the road and the bonnet was still warm.

Ms Satori, a renowned local cook, was alone in the historic property when it went up in flames.

It is believed the fire started in the centre of the building, near cooking equipment, and spread quickly.

Senior detective constable Neal Thompson said: "The building was very old, with a lot of old timbers. "What we understand is the fire has progressed very rapidly."

Family friend Arnold Pizzini told Seven News Ms Satori's death has been felt deeply by the community.

"She loved people and she loved doing stuff for the locals," he said. "That was her personality."

In a tragic twist, Seven News understands the Satori family had only taken over the business in the past week.

Her children visited the scene today, and it is understood her husband is working interstate.

Ten tankers were used to fight the blaze, and a nearby power pole had fallen, bringing down powerlines, a CFA spokesman said.

Police are investigating, but say they are confident there are no suspicious circumstances.

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