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YEAR IN REVIEW: Arson cases plague Tehama
Corning and Tehama County fire authorities had their hands full investigating suspected arson fires throughout the year.
The first two of three suspect fires occurred in Corning within a week of each other.
Corning volunteer firefighters responded to 1509 Butte St. on Jan. 28 to find the front porch of the home engulfed in flames spreading into the interior of the home. The home was reported to be used only occasionally by its out-of-town owner. The fire caused $65,000 in damages.
The next fire took place on Feb. 2, and also started on the front porch, this time an abandoned house at 1315 Yolo St. When firefighters arrived, the structures was fully engulfed in flames.
"The old house had no electricity going to it and we found no visible means of ignition," said Fire Chief Martin Spannaus stated.
He said the connection between the two fires was very suspicious in nature and both were investigated as arson.
A third arson fire took place about one month later, on March 8 at 261 E. Corona Ave., and burned down another abandoned house.
It too was investigated as an arson fire.
The fire department responded to the blaze at 2:37 a.m. but the structure was already fully engulfed.
"Again, this is a structure with no electricity or gas running to it, and it was a clear night," Spannaus said. "That leads us to believe this fire was intentionally set."
No arrests were made in connection to any of these fires.
A $1,500 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for a structure fire that occurred near the intersection of Derby Road and Monroe Avenue in northwest Red Bluff. That was one of three arson fires that took place in that area over a seven-month period, according to CalFire.
A reward was also offered for information concerning the July 4 arson fire that destroyed the Tehama County Support Services building on Diamond Avenue in Red Bluff.
Firefighters also responded to a number of structure fires throughout the year that were not deemed suspicion in nature, such as the July 16 blaze that destroyed the home of Bob Zinniger on Hatfield Road and killed his cat.
That fire started from someone mowing dry grass on a riding mower on a windy day. Along with Zinniger's home the blaze burned 94 acres, outbuildings, vehicles, fencing and farm equipment.
In March, a Red Bluff man died in a house fire after running into the burning structure. Firefighters responded to a double-wide mobile home fire in the Pettycoat Junction Mobile Home Park on Highway 99E where they found the Bryan Owensby in the destroyed structure. He was transported by ambulance to a hospital where he died, CalFire reported. It is not known why the man ran into the burning home.
The most recent fire that destroyed a home near Corning broke out on Nov. 30 at 24141 Million Road. Firefighters were unable to save the mobile home and vehicle parked next to it.