Investigators are continuing to seek the cause of a fire in Squaw Valley that destroyed the home proposed for a convicted child molester who has served his sentence.
Cal Fire Capt. Jeremiah Wittwer said the fire that destroyed the home intended for Jeffrey Snyder, 61, is considered “suspicious, but they can’t rule out (an electrical cause) since there was power to the residence.”
Snyder was supposed to be housed in the mobile home at 36188 Sage Lane, near the corner of Sage Lane and Hawthorne avenues.
The mobile home was the second residence proposed in Fresno County for Snyder, a sexually violent predator who remains under the supervision of the Department of State Hospitals. Officials had proposed a home in northwest Fresno, but that idea was scrapped after neighbors complained.
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We’re unable to rule out arson.
Cal Fire Capt. Jeremiah Wittwer
The circumstances of Snyder’s case make it difficult to rule out arson, Wittwer said.
The single-wide mobile trailer was “well-involved” when firefighters arrived at 11:12 a.m. Thursday. The initial call was “black smoke in the area,” Wittwer said.
“Nobody was on the property at the time,” he said.
Damage was estimated at $40,000. Firefighters were able to save a propane tank and well house, Wittwer said.
Snyder’s lawyer, Curtis Sok, said the state and its contractor, Liberty Health Care, “can’t find a better spot.”
He said Snyder has served his time, and professionals who have worked with him at Coalinga State Hospital say he is ready to live outside the hospital.
Snyder will be under regular supervision and wear an ankle monitor, Sok said, and his computer use and television viewing also will be monitored. When he shops or has appointments, he will be escorted, Sok said.
Sok said he spoke after the fire with Snyder, who is “bummed a little bit, but he knows we’re not giving up.”
Snyder, he said, just wants to prove that he is a reformed man, but “if he violates the rules, then he’s done.”
Our community is against this at a level even Fresno didn’t see.
Lonnie Work, Squaw Valley resident
Lonnie Work, a Squaw Valley resident leading the campaign against Snyder living there, said residents plan to intensify their efforts opposing his move.
“We are going to go after this in every direction,” putting pressure on law enforcement, local and state government officials, he said. “We are also going to make a concerted public effort to convince the owner of the property that this is probably an ill-fated venture on his part.”
He said there are 14 registered sex offenders in the area within about six miles of Squaw Valley.
“We understand that there are people who think we are in a remote area and that this would be a good place to put someone like that,” he said.
But children walk or bike long distances to see friends, and there are no streetlights at night to provide more safety, he said.
“Our community is against this at a level even Fresno didn’t see,” Work said. “We’re small, but we’re very tight.”
Anyone with information about the fire can call Cal Fire’s fire prevention bureau at 559-485-7500.