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Man dies in early morning fire

Posted: Friday, Oct 11th, 2013

A excavator is used to pull down a converted barn that caught fire and killed a man early Friday on Pioneer Road. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — A man died in an early morning blaze that swept through the converted barn he was living in Friday at 195 Pioneer Road.

Authorities have not released the victim’s name. Neighbors at the scene said the man was in his 50s.

The fire was first reported at 2:30 a.m., said Division Chief Ian Larkin of Cal Fire.

Larkin said the blaze also triggered a vegetation fire that spread into a quarter acre of tall dry grass and shrubs and melted the vinyl siding of a single-level home before firefighters got a hose on it.

“We did save the house next door,” Larkin said. “That was a $600,000 save. The cause of the fire is still under investigation; this will take some time.”
 As daylight came firefighters called for a large excavator to help pick apart the ruins of the charred two-story older style barn. Larkin said the structure was so weakened by the fire that it was unsafe for firefighters to get near the ruins, so a heavy piece of equipment was utilized to pull the ruin down.

Somewhere around 8 a.m. the excavator operator, as he tore apart the brittle and smoking remains of the structure, spotted the victim’s body and alerted fire officials.

Larkin said the barn was converted to accommodate living quarters on the second floor and storage on the ground level.

The barn is situated on a private dirt road off of Pioneer Road in a country setting of rolling hills sprinkled with ranch style and older homes.

The loss of the barn was placed at $200,000.

Larkin said firefighters had to haul water to the scene with a water tender because a fire hydrant is not close to the barn.

Pajaro Valley Fire was joined by Cal Fire at Corralitos and Aptos/La Selva Fire. Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies also assisted at the scene. The Sheriff’s coroner arrived at the scene about 9:30 a.m. and the body was removed about an hour later.

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