Investigation into cause of E.C. house fire continues

February 09, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

Arson investigators are continuing their probe into what caused a vacant house south of El Centro to burn to the ground Thursday.

"There's nothing apparent at this time," said county fire Capt. Lon Hettinger.

Cracked masonry arches, a fireplace and some plumbing were all that remained standing of the house at the corner of West McCabe and Dogwood roads Thursday afternoon as firefighters sprayed water on the last of the smoking timbers.

Homeowner Carolyn Janzen had moved out of the house but was still conducting her legal practice from an office in the home with her assistant, Jose Woo. A for-sale sign and an attorney's business sign were posted at the end of the short driveway on the wooded estate.

Hettinger said there is much work to be done before the cause of the fire is known.

County Sheriff's Office logs indicate the fire is suspicious in nature. Hettinger said any time the cause of a fire is unexplained, it is suspicious.


Janzen, a former county counsel, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Investigators placed the value of the home at $399,000. It included a pool, tennis courts, hot tub and kennels for 30 Rottweilers that Janzen used for breeding, said one investigator. The dogs were removed from the home last week.

The fire was reported by a neighbor about 2 a.m. and had likely burned for quite some time before it was reported, Hettinger has said.

By the time county fire crews arrived, flames had spread throughout the house and fire crews were unable to save the structure. Some of the south wall was left standing, but even that was charred and blackened. The walls on the north side were entirely gone, save for a few spindly 2-by-4s left standing around the concrete foundation.

Fire crews from other departments, including El Centro, Calexico and Holtville, were called to help fight the blaze.

A legal advertisement in this newspaper Tuesday listed the property as in the process of foreclosure. An employee with Specialized Inc., of Carpinteria said Janzen owed $342,783 on the home, set to be sold at auction Feb. 27.

Staff Writer Marcy Misner can be reached at 337-3441.

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