Despite citizen’s efforts, one confirmed killed in Hemet blaze

HEMET — Officials have confirmed at least one person died in an early morning residential blaze in Hemet Friday, Dec. 14. Area residents who woke to the fire reportedly tried to enter the burning home to save an elderly woman and dog trapped inside the blaze, but were forced back by intense heat and flames.

This morning’s deadly fire, which destroyed the residence, happened on the 900 block of S Santa Teresa Way, between W. Johnston and W. Whittier avenues.


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Hemet Fire and Police Departments, along with other emergency personnel, were dispatched to the home
about 5:42 a.m., after receiving reports of the residential fire. 911 callers reported there was possibly a woman and dog trapped inside the burning house and citizens were attempting to gain access to the blazing structure trying to save the occupants.

One person died in a mobile home blaze in Hemet early this morning. John Strangis photo

When officials arrived they found a double-wide mobile home that was fully engulfed in fire, with flames shooting ten feet in the sky from every window and opening on all four sides of the house.

Firefighters immediately initiated an aggressive attack on the fire, while trying to gain access into the burning home to find the occupant and dog reportedly trapped inside.

Firefighters quickly knocked the blaze down, bringing it under control in about 20 to 25 minutes.

After the blaze was extinguished, firefighters made entry into the home and confirmed one person was found deceased inside the residence. It was not immediately known if the dog reported to be inside the residence was located and saved or if it perished in the fire.

Officials have not released the victim’s name or information, pending further investigation, positive identification, and notification of the victim’s family.

San Jacinto resident Teresa Madrigal later said she first noticed the fire as she was on her way to work.

“I pulled over and started honking my horn and yelling so the neighbors would wake up and I called 911,” Madrigal explained. “While I was waiting for fire department I spoke to some of the neighbors and they told me a little old lady that could barely walk lived there alone.”

“I just pray they say she wasn’t home,” Madrigal said before later learning of the victim’s passing.

Officials are still working to determine the cause of the deadly blaze.

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

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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year 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 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.