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Philo house fire claims life of well-known Mendocino County woman

A well-known member of the Anderson Valley community of Philo died Tuesday evening when a fire destroyed a rural home she shared with her companion.

Paula Kesenheimer, 74, was identified by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office as the victim of a fire that burned her two-story home and two other buildings in the 7000 block of Signal Ridge Road.

Firefighters were first called at ?5:45 p.m. to a blaze that had spread to vegetation and burned a quarter-acre of brush before it was extinguished, Cal Fire said.

Kesenheimer’s companion was able to carry her from the home, said Sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney.

She died of undisclosed injuries. Barney said an autopsy would take place but that results, including the cause of death, could take months.

Kesenheimer’s companion was identified Wednesday by the Anderson Valley Grange as David Norfleet. A friend helped him get Kesenheimer out of the burning home, according to a Grange post on Facebook.

Norfleet was taken to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center for smoke inhalation.

“With great sadness the Anderson Valley Grange would like to inform the community that one of our longest standing members, Paula Kesenheimer, passed away yesterday,” the Grange said in the Facebook post.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but Barney said there’s “nothing outwardly suspicious about it.”

Staff Writer Randi Rossmann contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or nick.rahaim@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nrahaim.

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