Three dead in Panoche fire

Victims include woman, two children

CalFire is investigating the origin and cause of the Panoche fire. Photo by KION News

Three people, including a toddler and an infant, died June 4 in a camping trailer that burned in the midst of an ongoing wildfire in Panoche Valley, according to authorities.

At about 10:30 p.m., the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to assist with the CalFire incident known as the Panoche fire, according to a press release from the sheriff.

During the fire suppression operation, firefighters found what appeared to be a dead adult inside the remains of a camping trailer on the burned property, located off Panoche Road north of San Benito, according to authorities.

The fire department called sheriff’s investigators and coroner’s officials to the scene. Upon further investigation, detectives found the remains of what appeared to be a woman, toddler and infant, according to investigators.

Sheriff’s detectives processed the scene and took custody of the three fire victims at about 4:30 a.m. on June 5, authorities said. The sheriff’s office, which also acts as the county’s coroner’s office, was still in the process of identifying the victims and notifying their families of the deaths as of noon on June 5.

CalFire is investigating the origin and cause of the Panoche fire. Any questions about the fire can be directed to the CalFire BEU San Benito-Monterey Unit.

The Panoche fire burned about 64 acres and was 75 percent contained as of the morning of June 5, according to a CalFire incident report. There are two other unrelated fires burning in San Benito County—the Eastern fire on Coalinga Road, where about 170 acres have burned; and the Airline fire at Coalinga and Airline Highway, where about 850 acres have burned as of June 5.

The identities of the three fire victims had not been released as of June 5.

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