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Son arrested after parents' home set afire

December 27, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — Mike and Ernestine Anchondo sifted through the remains of their home here Wednesday, hours after fire left little more than a few charred books on faith.

Meanwhile, their son Michael Ygnacio Anchondo, 34, of Imperial, sat in county jail today on suspicion of using a lighter to ignite the blaze. His bail was set at $35,000.

According to the Imperial Police Department, the younger Anchondo was "upset" with his parents when he reportedly decided Wednesday to torch the home.

Police say they think he lived at the house at 512 N. C St.

Police said the younger Anchondo reportedly called his sister in the early-morning hours Wednesday and said he was angry with his parents and was going to burn their house.

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A short time later, the house was fully engulfed and there was little firefighters from Imperial County, El Centro, Brawley and Holtville fire departments could do to save the home.

County fire crews said it took about a half hour to extinguish the fire, but the house was a total loss. While the outer structure stood, the inside was gutted.

As fire crews battled the blaze, Imperial police officers spotted the younger Anchondo reportedly hiding behind a residence not far from the scene.

He was arrested and booked into the county jail. Police alleged he used a lighter to set his parents' bed on fire.

By 4 a.m. Wednesday his parents were on the scene. Mike and Ernestine Anchondo had been in the mountains enjoying the Christmas holiday when they learned of the fire.

Mike Anchondo did not talk about the fire being investigated as an arson. His wife said only it was a sad story and the police could provide the details.

The Anchondos did talk about their loss.

"Everything, everything," Mike Anchondo said when asked how much had been lost in the blaze.

When asked what he will do next, he answered, "I don't know."

The Anchondos have family they can stay with in the Imperial Valley, and there was talk of teachers in the Imperial Unified School District helping the Anchondos.

Both are well known in the school district. In the morning, friends and neighbors gathered around the Anchondos to offer support.

Ernestine is a teacher's aide at Ben Hulse Elementary School. Mike has worked as a sports official throughout the Imperial Valley.

The Anchondos had lived in the house at 512 N. C St. for 34 years. It is where they raised their children.

When asked if they will rebuild the house, Mike Anchondo said, "I don't know."

Police said this morning they plan to submit paperwork to the Imperial County District Attorney's Office to seek an arson charge against the younger Anchondo.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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