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Officials: Redwood Valley fire death appears accidental

A Redwood Valley man who perished in his home that burned to the ground Oct. 3 died from fourth-degree thermal burns, Mendocino County Sheriff's officials said this week.

Firefighters found the body of Courtney James Collins, 66, as they fought the blaze at the Radical Ridge Road property, authorities said. He was identified through dental records.

Collins lived in the remote community about six miles west of Redwood Valley on a two-lane dirt road.

Sheriff's Lt. Greg Van Patton said his death appears to have been accidental, although fire investigators weren't able to determine what started the blaze.

"There was nothing in my investigation that would lead us to believe foul play," Cal Fire Capt. Craig Dudley said.

A volunteer fire-spotter with the county reported at 3:43 p.m. that a home was engulfed in flames, Dudley said. A battalion chief was the first to reach the property at about 4:10 p.m.

The fire also spread to surrounding timber and open grassland, burning about four acres.

Dudley said the home was completely destroyed and they only know it had been two stories from neighbors.

Collins grew up in Salt Lake City and Woodside in the Bay Area and graduated from Stanford University, according to his family's obituary.

He worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator complex in the 1960s and later as a contractor in Berkeley and Mendocino County.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220, julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com or on Twitter @jjpressdem.


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