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December 4, 2023

With DNA needed, ID of fire victims might take weeks

It may take several weeks before authorities can confirm an official identity of the woman and two children killed in a June 4 camping trailer fire.

It might take four to five weeks for a confirmation because investigators had to use DNA for the identification, said Capt. Eric Taylor with the sheriff’s office. They are doing so because the bodies were not identifiable after they were found in the trailer after the fire. Aside from identities, the sheriff/coroner is also awaiting confirmation from the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office on an official cause of death.

A 27-year-old mother and her two children, ages 3 years old and eight months, are believed to be the fatal victims in the fire to a camping trailer the night of June 5 in the 20000 block of Panoche Road in Paicines. At 10:30 p.m., the sheriff’s office responded to the Panoche Fire where authorities found the bodies.

The sheriff’s office has said a barbecue pit likely fell over and started the blaze. The agency is acting as the coroner in the case and doesn’t believe there is evidence of wrongdoing that would spur a criminal investigation.

Sheriff’s investigators spoke to the boyfriend/father of the woman and children presumed dead. According to Taylor, the boyfriend/father received a call from his late girlfriend earlier that night, while running errands 40 minutes away, letting him know there was a fire outside the trailer and she was going to try and put it out. Witnesses also reported hearing screams on the scene, and told the sheriff’s office the woman may have run back inside in an attempt to save the children.

The boyfriend told sheriff’s officers he had used the grill earlier—and that he may have removed a piece of wood from the grill and placed it outside with dirt around it “to use later.”

-Kollin Kosmicki