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Neighbor: house fire started from attempted car theft

Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:13:07 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 06 2013 02:00:00 AM CST
RED BLUFF, Calif. -

If they know, fire investigators are not saying how a suspicious fire started in Tehama County. But neighbors and witnesses think they know what happened.

It broke out before 3:30 a.m. Wednesday at a house on Hasvold St. in Red Bluff and left a home and garage destroyed.

The Red Bluff Police and Fire Departments say it is just speculation at this point, but one neighbor offered his theory on the fire’s origin.

“[My neighbor’s] Corvette, the car that was in the driveway, somehow got into the garage -- running and on fire -- they don't know how," said Deny Lightfoot.

Fire officials are stressing that the investigation is still in its early stages, but Lightfoot was willing to talk about what he thinks took place. He was there as the fire spread from his neighbor’s house and garage toward his home. He grabbed a hose, as did a Red Bluff Police Officer who was called to the scene.

"It got real out of hand, real fast," said Lightfoot. "I noticed kind of a flickering light over here, and my neighbor spraying his garden hose into his garage. By the time it got too hot for me in the backyard, and I made my way out of the house and across the street, I could tell that the corners of my roof right there were starting to catch."

Wednesday morning, he was counting his lucky stars and recalling what he and his neighbor’s believe had happened overnight.

"Someone was trying to jump-start it. It's a manual car,” said Lightfoot. “If you start a manual car in gear it lurches forward. They’re thinking it ran straight into the garage, all over their boxes, and started the boxes on fire and started their car on fire. They've got gas cans in there. All that stuff."

Police said multiple witnesses gave a similar version of that story, but said the case has not yet been handed over to them. Fire investigators will continue to determine the cause and origin before starting up any criminal investigation.

The fire was contained in roughly thirty minutes. Those inside got out safely.