A fire that destroyed a mobile home in the Big Hill area on March 9 appeared to be the same location as a blaze on Tuesday that resulted in the death of one person and arrests of two 16-year-old boys on suspicion of homicide and arson, according to Tuolumne County Sheriff’s officials.

Sgt. Andrea Benson, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, said on Thursday that deputies responded to a fire in March at the same location on Calle Quartz Road to assist if any evacuations or roadblocks were needed.

Sheriff’s Office dispatch logs showed a call at 3:17 p.m. March 9 from someone on Calle Quartz Road who heard a “big boom” and could see black smoke coming from down the street.

Cal Fire spokeswoman Emily Kilgore confirmed that a mobile home was destroyed in the March 9 blaze, and its occupants received assistance from the American Red Cross.

Kilgore said the cause was determined to be from unattended heating equipment in the mobile home, and there was nothing in the report indicating any suspicion of the cause or people involved.

The Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 5:58 a.m. on Tuesday about a fire on Calle Quartz Road near Adelleana Lane, about five miles east of Columbia State Historic Park.

Kent Cunningham, a Cal Fire battalion chief in the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit who responded to the call, said on Wednesday a structure was fully engulfed when he arrived at about 6:20 a.m.

Cunningham said it was hard to discern the type of structure due to the level of destruction, but it appeared to be a trailer with some sort of addition.

The Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook at 5:57 p.m. Tuesday that one person was found dead at the scene.

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office posted an update stating that two teenage boys were arrested in connection with the deadly blaze. The post stated the pair was facing charges of homicide and arson.

A subsequent post at 11:42 a.m. on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page stated the deceased person was found outside the burning structure.

The Sheriff’s Office is not releasing the name or gender until after an autopsy to confirm the identity and cause of death, which Benson said she doesn’t expect until next week.

The names of the suspects are being withheld because they are minors.

Both boys were placed under arrest and taken to the Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Facility after detectives interviewed them about 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the Sheriff’s Investigations Office, according to Benson.

Patrol deputies transported the juveniles to the office, but Benson would not release the circumstances that led them to become suspects.

Benson said she was unaware if the boys were still in custody on Thursday and referred questions about their status to officials at the Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Facility, who then referred questions to the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office.

No one at the District Attorney’s Office responded to requests for comment on Thursday.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.







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