Two people dead in Tahoe City fire
October 18, 2011
Two people were killed early Tuesday morning after a reportedly accidental fire engulfed a home on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore.
Placer County Sheriff’s Officer Capt. Jeff Ausnow said the house fire on Spruce Avenue in Tahoe City was reported at about 1:45 a.m. and was contained overnight by the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.
The deceased were identified Tuesday afternoon as Peter Maktenieks, 50, and Amy Pass, 39, both full-time Tahoe City residents.
In an interview later Tuesday, PCSO Det. Sgt. John Giovannini said the cause of the fire is still unknown; however, a preliminary investigation indicates the deaths were accidental in nature. A dog also was found dead inside in the home, he said.
Fire and law enforcement officials scoured the property all day Tuesday, which has been designated a crime scene and surrounded by yellow tape.
Belinda Davis, a second homeowner from Huntington Beach, Calif., lives across the street from the home. She said she was alerted to the fire when her Chihuahua Lily began barking loudly around 1:45 a.m. Davis said she first thought a bear was trying to enter the home, but soon saw the flames and immediately grabbed her dog and drove down the street to a safe distance.
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Afterward, Davis said she met with fellow neighbors who had already alerted emergency officials.
“It was a horror movie,” Davis said. “I looked out and the house was in flames … and the power lines were sparking and exploding.”
Residents gathered outside while firefighters battled the flames for about an hour, Davis said.
“To think we were standing here watching them (the victims) with the fire inside,” said Davis. “We kept thinking no one was in there.”
Another nearby resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said when her daughter alerted the family, her husband immediately began spraying the flames with his hose as they waited for firefighters to arrive. The woman said the fire began small, but rapidly engulfed the home.
Davis questioned the why the dog didn’t wake the couple.
“If my dog barked and sensed it across the street why didn’t the dog at the house sense it?” Davis said. “This is tragic, this is really tragic.”
Giovannini said there are multiple variables related to how the fire could have started and whether the dog could have alerted residents.
“It’s anybody’s guess,” said Giovannini.
The home is located in the Sunnyside area of Tahoe City, a couple blocks off Highway 89 near Fire Sign Cafe.