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California homeowner lights fire in fireplace killing burglar

NBC News:

A suspected burglar who became stuck in a chimney in Central California died Saturday afternoon after the unsuspecting homeowner lit a fire, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.

The incident occurred at around 3 p.m. and firefighters who responded to the Huron home found a man stuck in the chimney but apparently still breathing, the sheriff’s office said. 

But the man, who was not immediately identified, was dead when firefighters broke into the chimney, the sheriff’s office said.

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Rory Appleton, Fresno Bee:

Lt. Brandon Pursell said deputies received a 911 call to the 16000 block of West Gale Avenue just before 3 p.m. After lighting a fire, the male homeowner heard screaming coming from somewhere inside the house. When the resident realized a person was in the chimney, he extinguished the fire.

Deputies and firefighters had to smash the chimney to get the man out. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Fresno County coroner will perform an autopsy to confirm a cause of death. The man’s identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.

Veronica Miracle, KFSN-TV:

By the time first responders arrived smoke had filled the house. Deputies said the suspect was responding at first, but by the time they got him out it was too late.

“You can’t get through a chimney,” (Sgt. Jake) Jensen said.

Investigators are still trying to determine if he died from smoke inhalation, burns or other injuries.

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