YUCCA MESA — A house was destroyed by fire and the man living there was arrested Monday morning.
The fire was reported around 5:30 a.m. Monday in the 56900 block of Campanula Street, around Sage Avenue, said county fire Battalion Chief Donny Viloria.
Crews from the county fire stations in Yucca Valley, Yucca Mesa and Joshua Tree responded.
“They were greeted by an occupant who had already evacuated numerous pets, including exotic birds and at least one dog,” Viloria said.
“Our personnel then made a push into the structure to extinguish the flames.”
The fire was contained within 30 minutes.
The fire department called sheriff’s deputies to the scene as well.
“We had notes that indicated when we respond to this particular address, law enforcement also needed to be involved,” Viloria said.
Responding deputies talked to the home’s resident, Eddie Brandon, 49, a convicted felon.
The Sheriff’s Department stated in a news release that Brandon admitted he had explosive devices. Deputies also knew there had been prior reports of someone shooting guns in the area.
They found several expended shell casings on Brandon’s property and collected guns, more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition in various calibers, body armor, brass knuckles, pepper spray and a pepper spray gun from the house.
Brandon was arrested and booked at the Morongo Basin Jail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Viloria said there were reports of explosions during the fire, but it’s not certain the sounds were from ammunition or weapons. “Things like that happen on residential structure fires all the time, because maybe in the garage there’s a gas can. Tires explode. A can of Raid bug spray will explode,” he said. “So we hear a lot of explosions while we’re working a residential structure fire.”
After knocking down the flames, firefighters ran their salvage and overhaul operations to recover what they could from the home, then left, not realizing the fire was still smoldering in unseen parts of the building.
“This was an instance where someone has built onto their structure in a way that is not conventional construction, so there were hidden, concealed spaces that were not contained (by fire crews),” Viloria said.
The fire investigator still on the scene saw the smoke and called in an engine around 10:30 a.m.
“When the engine crew got very, very close, they recognized they would not be able to deal with it themselves, so they called an additional structure fire response,” Viloria said.
Firefighters returned, this time accompanied by county animal control officers, who took custody of the birds and the dog.
The house was destroyed by fire.
“The good news is the owner-occupant didn’t suffer any injuries. No firefighters suffered any injuries. None of the animals were injured,” Viloria said.
The cause of the fire, and whether it was connected to the firearms and ammunition on scene, is still being investigated by the sheriff’s bombs and arson division, Sgt. M. Hurtado said.