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Fatal Potter Valley fire called 'suspicious,' cause still unknown

As Potter Valley residents rallied Sunday for a family who lost two relatives in a Saturday morning house fire, Mendocino County sheriff's detectives and fire investigators continued looking into what sheriff's officials called a suspicious fire.

"We've been on the scene. . . . The investigation is ongoing," said Potter Valley Fire Chief Bill Pauli on Sunday.

Sheriff's officials haven't released the names of the two victims, but family members Saturday said they were Earl McDaniels, a grandfather in his 80s, and his son Wes McDaniels, a developmentally disabled man in his 50s.

There were at least seven family members living in the double-wide mobile home with an attached large room. Two other people may have been staying at the home as well, visiting, Pauli said.

The residence was on the rural community's main street and people working nearby and volunteer firefighters saw the smoke and ran to the house.

The bystanders and firefighters helped get three children out of the gated and locked yard. Bolt cutters were used to open the gate, Pauli said.

Initial reports indicated the children's parents had tried to get the victims out but the home was quickly engulfed in flames, followed by propane tank explosions.

Two bodies were located during the fire fight. The 7:30 a.m. blaze destroyed the home.

"There was nothing saved. Nothing," Pauli said.

Sheriff's detectives are leading the investigation. A press release issued Saturday by the Sheriff's Office labelled the fire suspicious, but no details were given.


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