UPDATE: Blaze that destroyed Burney home started by transient: BFPD Chief

UPDATED: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2 p.m.

See original story and photos below.

BURNEY — New details are coming to light after an unoccupied Burney home was destroyed by an early morning blaze yesterday, Monday, Oct. 29.

In response to an SCNS request for information and details about the fire, Burney Fire Protection District Chief Monte B Keady explained that despite the fact that the residence had already been deemed uninhabitable and unsafe by county officials, the fire that destroyed the abandoned home was started by a transient smoking in a bed inside the residence.


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Based on evidence at the scene, which included “melted items and heavy smoke-stained windows in areas of the abandoned house that were not directly involved in the fire,” officials later determined the fire started several hours before it was discovered, Keady explained to SCNS the day after the destructive blaze.

Firefighters yesterday morning responded to reports of a Burney home fully engulfed in flames on Shasta St, north of Main St. BFPD photo

Firefighters and other emergency personnel were first notified of the hours-long, smoldering fire just after 3 a.m., “after the fire finally broke out a window and showed itself,” Keady explained.

Two engine companies, Battalion 17, and the Breathing Air Support Unit from Burney Fire, were assisted by two engine companies from CALFIRE Johnson Park Station, as well as an engine from Cassel in extinguishing the blaze.

When officials arrived at the scene they began an immediate aggressive attack on the fire, “using hoselines both inside and out,” according to Chief Keady.

Shortly after ordering fire crews inside the home to battle the flames from inside the residence, BFPD Incident Commander Captain Kevin Adkins noticed “the fire had gone through the roof and the roof was beginning to sag,” Keady explained. “He recognized the fact that the fire had been burning longer than he first thought and made the decision to withdraw the crews.”

Adkins’ “quick thinking” and decision to pull his personnel from inside the residence ultimately ensured no firefighters or citizens were injured, said Keady.

After the blaze was under control Cpt. Adkins later explained, “When I saw the fire through the roof I thought this is an abandoned structure with no real value, we don’t need to get anybody hurt.”

“Although the house is considered a total loss … and a neighbor’s house was endangered by the flames coming from the structure on fire, the quick actions of the combined agencies worked to keep the house next door safe,” Keady explained, while praising the efforts of all those involved in quickly knocking down the fire.

Due to the “prolonged burn time and the volume of contents still in the abandoned structure,” the fire needed extensive overhauling, according to Keady who explained that firefighters remained at the scene for several hours after the blaze was suppressed.

Although officials have determined what started the blaze that destroyed the residence, BFPD’s fire investigation is active and ongoing.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.


Original story: Another unoccupied Burney home destroyed by early morning blaze

BURNEY — Officials are investigating after an abandoned Burney home was consumed by fire early this morning, Monday, Oct. 29. The fast-moving blaze destroyed a residence on the 20400 block of Shasta St. between Trinity and Main streets. The destroyed home is located just one street and less than a quarter-mile away from Burney’s Fire Station.

The home that burned this morning is just one of several abandoned area residences believed to be used by drug addicts and squatters and many area residents have complained that despite their continuous, ongoing complaints, nothing has been done to curb the problem.


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Fire and rescue personnel from Burney Fire Protection District, Cassel Fire Department, and Shasta County-Cal Fire, along with Burney sheriff’s and other emergency personnel, responded to the blaze around 3 a.m., after receiving reports of a residential structure fire burning halfway down Shasta St., on the street’s west side.

An unoccupied Burney home believed to have been actively used by vagrants, squatters, and drug addicts, was gutted by an early morning blaze. Larry Ziobro photo

Officials arrived within minutes of the dispatched call and found a single story home that was fully engulfed in fire. Firefighters made an aggressive attack on the blaze and quickly knocked down the fire. Official radio traffic at the time indicated firefighters found no one inside the burned and destroyed residence.

After the fire was extinguished, firefighters and other officials remained at the scene for several hours conducting overhaul and mop-up operations.

There were no reported injuries related to the structure fire, leaving many area residents thankful for firefighters’ quick response and efforts.

Although the home was gutted by the blaze, firefighter’s efforts saved other nearby homes and structures from burning; however, at least one nearby home and fence reportedly sustained minor damage from the fire’s intense heat.

Area residents later reported being startled awake by the sound of fire engines and the smell of thick, choking smoke filing their homes and neighborhood.

Burney resident Larry Ziobro, who resides directly adjacent to the home that burned, later described how his dog “Toby” anxiously woke him up around 3 a.m. Thinking the dog needed to go outside, Ziobro opened his back door, at which time he smelled smoke and realized the home next to his was burning.

According to many area residents and other sources, the home that burned had been the site of countless recent complaints of squatters, vagrants, and drug users, who were often seen coming and going from the residence at all hours of the day and night.

A man spotted rummaging through property salvaged from the destroyed home was briefly stopped and questioned this morning before being allowed to leave. Larry Ziobro photo

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire and have increased police presence in the area in the wake of several other suspicious recent fires; including two separate blazes that occurred at the same abandoned home on nearby Woods Ave., just a half mile away. (See links above.)

At around 9 a.m. the morning of the fire, an eagle-eyed area resident spotted a man enter the property of the burned home and begin rummaging through items that had been dragged from the gutted residence during firefighter’s suppression and clean up efforts.

The resident flagged down a passing sheriff and directed the deputy to the man, who was still outside the residence rummaging through property and personal items salvaged from the fire.

The deputy contacted the man – who claimed to have a right to be at the home – and checked the subject for warrants.

Radio traffic at the time indicated the man had no warrants and he was subsequently released, much to the ire of area residents who watched the interaction.

A request for information regarding this fire sent to Burney Fire Protection District had not been responded to as of this report.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

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Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 14 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.