PLACENTIA, Calif., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Investigators Tuesday continued to look for the cause of an overnight fire that swept through a Southern California house and presumably killed a 39-year-old father and his three boys.
Placentia firefighters had to wait Tuesday morning while parts of the gutted home were stabilized before they could begin looking for the bodies of Donald Ybarra and his sons, Brandon, 8, Connor 5, and Jacob, 2.
Arson investigators, including police detectives and a dog trained to sniff out flammable liquids, were also standing by to look for the cause of the blaze once it was safe to enter the still-smoldering wreckage.
"It is going to be a lengthy process," Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Stephen Miller told United Press International. "There are still areas that need to be shored up before they (investigators) can enter. We also have four victims inside."
A crowd of neighbors who had come out in the chilly dawn to look at what was left of the single-family home began to drift away Tuesday morning.
Miller said investigators did not know if there had been a furnace or space heater running that may have sparked the blaze. The fire broke out around 9:30 p.m. PST, he said.
"There is no smoking gun at this point," said Miller, who noted that the house was fully engulfed and filled with black smoke when the first fire engines arrived.
Firefighters could do little at that point but take up a defensive posture and protect neighboring structures.
Melodie Ybarra, the wife and mother of the victims, escaped from the burning house with second-degree burns on her back. Miller said she was treated at the scene.