Man dies after trailer catches fire, ID not released |

Man dies after trailer catches fire, ID not released

A man died early Wednesday after his trailer caught fire in Nevada City, authorities say.

Firefighters responded to a report of a blaze around 1:20 a.m. on the 700 block of West Broad Street. Five fire engines, with units from the Grass Valley/Nevada City Fire Department as well as assistance from a couple of neighboring departments, were at the scene and put out the fire within a short amount of time, according to Grass Valley/Nevada Division Chief Sam Goodspeed.

The trailer suffered extensive damage, and the fire had briefly spread to a patch of vegetation in the surrounding wildland area, but it was contained before there was any serious threat to other structures, Goodspeed said.

Personnel with Nevada County Consolidated Fire department and Cal Fire helped extinguish the blaze. Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office and Nevada City Police Department officers also assisted at the scene, according to Goodspeed.

While the fire was being extinguished, firefighters were informed that the occupant of the trailer was still possibly inside. When responding personnel entered the trailer, they found a male who was clearly deceased as a result of injuries sustained from the fire, Goodspeed said.


The man, who has not been identified as an autopsy is pending, was described as being in his 60s, and appeared to be the owner and sole occupant of the trailer.

The deceased individual appeared to have had some health issues that may have contributed to him being unable to escape during the fire, Goodspeed said.

The body was burned beyond identification, according to Nevada County Coroner’s Office spokesperson Capt. Jeff Pettitt. An autopsy has been requested for the body, and this process could take months as the Coroner’s Office will likely have to conduct extensive DNA analysis to verify the man’s identity, Pettitt said.

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined, but it appears that the fire was most likely caused either by an improperly extinguished cigarette, as the resident was a known smoker, or by a space heater that may have had extension cords that were improperly wired, according to Goodspeed.

The trailer itself was described as a fifth-wheel, double axle Cobra Sandpiper model. It is not clear what will happen to the trailer, which suffered considerable damage from the blaze.

Due to the injuries the deceased man sustained from the blaze, there may be difficulties conducting the regular forensic tests normally used to verify a someone’s identity, Pettitt said. After sending toxicology reports to a forensic pathologist to review the man’s blood work, the Coroner’s Office will send DNA samples to a government lab in Richmond, Virginia, to see if the samples match any DNA already in California’s state system.

If there is no known match for the DNA at that point, the coroner would then likely try to compare the deceased man’s DNA to possible family members for identification, Pettitt added.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer for The Union. He can be reached at

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