Investigators were unable to determine the cause of a Tuesday night fire that damaged a home on Truckenmiller Road in Sonora, according to Sonora Police Sgt. Tim Wertz.
Wertz said the man and woman who live at the home had made it out unharmed when police and firefighters arrived. The blaze was confined to a single room.
“There was quite a bit of smoke damage, a little bit of charring on the flooring and a bed was burned,” Wertz said.
There were no signs of arson or evidence to suggest what started the fire, according to Wertz. He said it was unconnected to other ongoing issues with transients and squatters who are known to frequent abandoned homes along the road.
“We usually try to find the cause, but I was unable to find one last night,” Wertz said Wednesday afternoon. “It was basically a pile of boxes that burned, but we’re just unsure what was in those boxes to make it ignite.”
Wertz said he did not get the identities of the residents living at the home and was unsure if they returned after the blaze was extinguished.
Windows on the home were boarded up on Wednesday. There was also a container in the front yard filled with items that smelled like smoke.
A man who answered the door declined to comment.
The home belongs to Borislav “Boro” Radosavljevic, a native of Yugoslavia whose family has owned several properties along Truckenmiller Road since the early 1900s. He was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Donna Burkey, who lives in the area, said she’s taking care of Radosavljevic’s properties because he is in China. He is expected to return Tuesday.
Burkey said the residents who live at the home are renting from Radosavljevic.
“It had to do something with the people taking something out of storage that caught on fire in the extra bedroom they had put the storage stuff in,” Burkey said. “There were suggestions about an old battery ... The wiring was fine and had nothing to do with house.”
Burkey said she wasn’t sure if someone who is in contact with Radosavljevic has told him about the fire.
The call reporting the fire came into the Sonora Police Department about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. Wertz said he didn’t know who made the call because it was forwarded through the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatch.
Sonora Fire Chief Aimee New said several fire engines arrived shortly after police, but there were no active flames when firefighters entered the home.
“It was basically a smoldering fire when they got there,” New said.
Firefighters extinguished the flames and left in under three hours, New said. She estimated the damage at $10,000 to the contents inside the home and up to $30,000 in damage to the structure.
New declined to comment on the suspected cause because all fire investigations in the city are handled by police.
Residents of the neighborhood have complained to city officials in the recent past about a lack of attention to abandoned homes and dilapidated structures along the road that they believe are a fire hazard.
Their fears were almost realized after a fire broke out on June 17 at an abandoned home across the street from the one that burned Tuesday night, prompting them to take their concerns directly to the Sonora City Council.
Bart Dolman, a Vietnam veteran who has lived in a home owned by Borislav Radosavljevic near Truckenmiller Road for more than 40 years, said he heard the sirens Tuesday night but didn’t know what happened.
Dolman said he’s still concerned about the decaying structures along the road that the city has yet to address.
“Nothing got done,” Dolman said outside his home Wednesday. “I’m sick and tired of going to city hall.”
There still appeared to be a large number of vehicles and motorhomes parked behind a home at the entrance to Truckenmiller Road.
Another roofless house along the road had a white SUV parked outside, a ladder perched from the ground to the roof and what appeared to be an umbrella over one corner. The Sonora Fire Department used the home for live-fire training exercises in the past, though the city has yet to tear it down.
Many of the properties along the road are owned by Truckenmiller LLC managed by Doni and Kurtis Mozingo, owners of the Oakdale-based Mozingo Construction Inc.
Mozingo Construction received a $1 million contract from the city in 2015 for a project to replace 85 fire hydrants and improve residential flows for fire protection.
City Administrator Tim Miller told The Union Democrat in August that he and Mayor Connie Williams had met with the Mozingos, who agreed to remove the rundown structures on their properties once the city evicts the people living in them.
All of the structures appeared to be still standing Wednesday.
“Don’t we have city ordinances about this? Don’t we have laws about this?” Dolman asked. “I’m sick of it.”
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 588-4530.