On November 7, a residential structure fire in Lake Williams resulted in the displacement of two families as the blaze consumed one home, owned by former zoo curator Don Richardson and rented by a family who’ve since asked to remain unnamed, and caused severe damage to the neighboring home, being rented by the Rott family. The Saturday morning fire in the 46000 block of Forest Hill Drive drew the response of five firefighting agencies, including the Big Bear City Fire Department, which remained on scene for nearly 15 hours. Bear City and San Bernardino County Fire Departments initiated the fire investigation, which was ultimately completed by fire investigators with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. According to Sergeant Todd Cole, the Lake Williams fire investigation is now closed and, he tells KBHR, the blaze has been ruled as accidental. Per the investigation, hot ashes were left in a metal container, which was placed on wood or carpeting on the deck at the door; given the elevated wood decking, the fire was given air to breathe and grow, per Cole, who adds that there was no other flame or heat source. And, he says, “It was a beautiful home—before.” Red Cross has provided assistance to the family that was living in the now-destroyed home, and Big Bear High School students have also pooled funds to support the family which has five children, one of whom attends Big Bear High. The father of the Rott family, which has two children, had been laid off the week before the fire, so they are also in need of assistance. Funds for both families have been established at Union Bank, for those who would like to make a contribution.
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