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Olivehurst fire called suspicious
Yuba County sheriff's deputies are investigating a fire that gutted an Olivehurst home just after midnight Thursday.
The cause of the blaze at 5103 Canal St. has not been determined, according to Lt. Damon Gil.
"We are pursuing it as a suspicious fire," Gil said.
Nobody was injured.
Explosions jolted neighbor John Mulikin awake around 12:20 a.m.
"I heard screaming. It scared me," Mulikin said later. "I called 911 and hit (the fire) with my hose as best I could."
Neighbors did not know the people living inside, but did know at least one of the residents was a toddler, and they scrambled to help in their pajamas, using garden hoses to spray tall flames and heavy smoke.
Mulikin, a former volunteer firefighter, said Thursday's blaze burned suspiciously. "When the water hit the fire, the flames seemed to spread out instead (of extinguish)," Mulikin said.
Neighbor Brenda Shumate has asthma, but it didn't stop her from battling thick smoke to douse the burning home.
"It was lit up like a Roman candle," Shumate said. "The flames were probably 15 to 20 feet high."
It is not clear if anybody was home when the back of the house burst into flames.
When firefighters arrived, they found the front door wide open and nobody was inside, Olivehurst Fire Chief Wade Harrison said.
Neighbors said later that residents Rick Reynolds and Channon Baker may have been home when the fire sparked, but left the neighborhood even before firefighters made it to the scene.
At least 17 firefighters from Olivehurst, Linda and Wheatland raced to the scene and put the flames out quickly.
Olivehurst Fire Capt. Stephen McClain said flames started toward the rear of the house, but he said firefighters saved well over half of the structure.
"The first crew put a good stop to it," McClain said.
A damage estimate was not available.
Anyone with information about the blaze is asked to call the Yuba County Sheriff's Department at 749-7777.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.