Friday, August 5, 2011


A private fire investigator made a startling discovery in Pasadena CA on Tuesday morning, as he probed for the cause of a structure fire that had occurred two days prior. The unnamed investigator was inside a detached garage that had been converted into an apartment, when he discovered a human body. The body had apparently been inside the structure since 02:20 Sunday, when Pasadena firefighters had extinguished the fire. Officials later determined that the body was that of a female but had not yet been able to identify her.

 Photo by Pasadena Fire Dept.

Pasadena fire chief Dennis Downs said that firefighters had not found a body despite searching the dwelling twice. All of the occupants that lived in the main house were accounted for and reportedly said that the detached apartment was vacant.

According to the Pasadena Star News, Chief Downs was also reluctant to concede that the firefighters may have missed finding the body stating "it has not been determined that the body was there at the time of the fire".

An official from the Los Angeles County Coroner's office described the body as being "burned" and "charred" but also said that the cause of death had not been determined. the case is being handled as a homicide.

A press release from the Pasadena Fire Dept. said that the fire was under control with 10 minutes after units arrived on scene and estimated that there was approximately $30,000 of damage to the building. The cause of the fire has been determined to be "suspicious".

The Pasadena Star News is also reporting that the dwelling has a history of code violations and of criminal activity occurring at the house.


I know EXACTLY how that private investigator feels. I once found a body in a mini-storage unit, after standing on it's feet for 10 minutes or so. I looked at various parts of that poor bastard, not realizing what it was until I noticed the exposed throat structure and how it looked like a human larynx. It was then that the rest of the picture came into focus and realized what i was standing on. We determined that the fire was accidental, and that the body was that of a homeless man who lived in the storage unit. (kids - don't do drugs!)

I suspect that the Pasadena case might have some similarities to mine. If the occupants of the front house are telling the truth, it is quite possible that a homeless person could have been staying there without their knowledge when the fire broke out. Depending on the condition of the body, the condition of the area where the body was located and the amount of lighting available, it is very possible that firefighters could have looked at and/or touched the body without realizing what it was. It is also possible that the body was simply in a place where it was hard to pick out.

I was lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective) that I was at my scene to determine the cause of the fire and therefore spent a great deal of time examining the area where the body was found. Had the body not been in the area of origin, I could have easily missed it and some knucklehead would be blogging about how I had missed a 6' human being while working a fire scene.

The Pasadena Fire Department is likely take a little heat over this, but I can understand how this could have happened. My advice to you is to always take a few minutes and look for anything out of the ordinary. You never know what you might find.

Links to the story:

Thanks for reading,

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