FRENCH VALLEY: Woman, 71, found dead after early morning house fire

FRENCH VALLEY — A 71-year-old woman was found dead by firefighters after extinguishing an early morning structure fire at a French Valley home this morning. Officials spent about 45 minutes knocking down the blaze, before discovering the victim’s body inside the fire-damaged residence, located on the 30300 block of Savannah Oaks Dr., southeast of Winchester and Murrieta Hot Springs Roads.

Officials have not yet released the victim’s name, pending further investigation and notification of the woman’s family.


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Firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, and other emergency personnel, responded to the home around 4:30 a.m., after a 911 caller reported seeing flames and smoke billowing from the home’s garage.

Firefighters work to extinguish a house fire that ended with one person dead. Nathan Wilking photo

Early reports indicated an unknown person may have attempted to enter the burning home to rescue the victim, but was possibly overcome by smoke and pushed back by the intense flames.

Twenty-one firefighters from five engine companies and one truck company were dispatched to the scene of the deadly fire, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire spokesperson Jody Hagemann wrote in an incident report.

“Firefighters arrived on scene to report a working garage fire,” Hagemann explained.

Firefighters began an immediate and aggressive attack on the blaze, and officials reported that the fire was extinguished shortly before 5:20 a.m.

Animal Control officers responded to the scene to help with pets displaced by the blaze and Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company employees were summoned to shut off utilities to the damaged residence.

Hagemann estimated the fire loss at about $90,000 but said firefighter’s efforts saved about $420,000 in property and personal belongings.

Cal Fire arson investigators and Riverside County Sheriff’s officials are now working together to determine the cause of the deadly blaze and forensic technicians from the Sheriff’s Forensic Service Bureau were later seen at the home photographing, documenting, and collecting evidence to help determine what might have started the fire.

This is an active and ongoing investigation and officials have not yet released any additional information.

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

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Nathan Wilking/RVCNews photos


Contact the writer:

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 The 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 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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