1 dead, home destroyed in fire outside Ukiah

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A man died and a historic ranch home was destroyed Friday in a fire just outside Ukiah.

The fire in the 800 block of Ford Road east of town began in a parked motor home and was fanned by gusting afternoon winds.

“We had a blowtorch on our hands,” Ukiah Valley Fire Authority Capt. Peter Bushby said.

The fire, which was reported about 4:15 p.m., soon spread to a nearby ranch home that was said to be built in 1906. The flames later jumped to a shed and to surrounding vegetation.

Once the fire was extinguished, firefighters learned of a missing man who had been living in the motor home. They checked the wrecked recreational vehicle and found a body inside.

The missing man was in his 60s and a friend of the property owners, Bushby said.

The body has yet to be positively identified, a Mendocino County sheriff’s sergeant said Saturday.

The blaze spread so quickly that it blistered lettering on the side of one of the fire engines, Bushby said. Amid the rushing flames, one fire engineer received heat burns to the back of the neck.

One firefighter also hurt his arm in a fall.

Without a nearby hydrant, firefighters had to rely on a water tender to haul in water for dousing the flames. Downed power lines also hindered their efforts, Bushby said.

The cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.

The agencies that sent firefighters included Ukiah Valley, Hopland, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley and Cal Fire.

Bushby estimated damage to the house, its contents and the motor home at between $400,000 and $500,000.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit.

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