Collapse Halts Rescue at California House Fire

A 78-year-old man died Tuesday when his home in the San Bernardino Mountains burned.

The unidentified man was found on the floor near the back door of the 1,600-square-foot, three-story house on the side of a hill in Rimforest, said Tracey Martinez, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department. Martinez said the man used a cane.

Firefighters had been told that the man might be inside, but downed power lines, the partial collapse of the house and the heat from the fire delayed the rescue attempt, Martinez said.

The man lived alone in the house.

The fire was reported about 9:40 a.m. in the 1500 block of Hazel Place. Rimforest is off Rim of the World Highway (the 18) between Crestline and Lake Arrowhead.

Firefighters arrived to find flames engulfing the top two floors, Martinez said. The fire was controlled within two hours but was still burning at 12:45 p.m.

Eight birds were also found dead inside the house.

An outbuilding and a couple of trees also burned. Two structures that were threatened were saved, Martinez said.

In all, 37 firefighters from the county, U.S. Forest Service, Running Springs Fire Department and Cal Fire responded.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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