A mobile home in Squaw Valley east of Fresno that was intended as housing for a convicted child molester burned Thursday morning, Fresno County officials said.
Jeffrey Snyder, 61, 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 the idea was scrapped after neighbors complained.
News spread quickly about the mobile home fire, which was reported at 11:08 a.m. and contained by noon. Some Squaw Valley residents appeared happy that the dwelling was severely damaged. There were no injuries in the blaze and the cause is under investigation.
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“I think it was terribly timely,” said Lonnie Work, who is organizing a petition drive to keep Snyder out of Squaw Valley. “It provides more time to ensure that we have a complete and total response to what they are trying to do to this community.”
I got neighbors with little ones. We don’t want him here.
Squaw Valley resident Joyce Berube
Work, who owns Work Enterprises Inc. in Squaw Valley, said children live next door and across the street to the home that had been intended for Snyder. Work’s office manager, Joyce Berube, who lives about a half-mile from the Sage Lane mobile home site, says there is also a bus stop nearby for students at Dunlap Elementary School.
“I’ve got neighbors with little ones,” Berube said. “We don’t want him here.”
Work said he has contacted Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig and Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, for help. Residents interested in joining the petition drive can call Work’s office at 559-332-2881. Berube also has set up a Facebook page called Neighborhood News 93675.
Magsig said his office has received messages from nearby residents since the new address for Snyder was announced, and he encouraged residents to email his office. He said written statements, such as emails or letters, are preferred because they are considered official.
“The sexually violent predator label is very concerning,” Magsig said. “I want to make sure residents have an opportunity to fully express their opinions, and I want to be a conduit for residents.”
The District Attorney’s Office announced this week that it would start taking public comments about the plan to house Snyder in Squaw Valley.
A hearing to determine that is scheduled for Feb. 28. Fresno attorney Curtis Sok, who represents Snyder, said Thursday that he wants to keep the February court date.
“We are not giving up. We are not giving in to this hatred, this mob mentality,” he said.
Sok added that Snyder earned a second chance, and the Squaw Valley property is a perfect place for him because it is relatively isolated.
Residents interested in joining the petition drive can call 559-332-2881 or go to the Facebook page called Neighborhood News 93675.
Snyder, who grew up in Fresno, is one of 480 sexually violent predators in California who have finished their prison sentences but are considered so dangerous that they must remain locked up at Coalinga State Hospital.
In March, Snyder earned his freedom in Fresno County Superior Court when he acknowledged his wrongdoing, showed remorse for his victims and completed intense treatment programs for sex offenders, said Sok.
In his ruling, Judge Gary Hoff said Snyder, who has been diagnosed with abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities, still is a sexually violent predator. But Hoff found Snyder could be released to a home in Fresno County under strict conditions, such as 24-hour monitoring and drug testing.
But finding a home for him has been difficult. In August, dozens of residents protested the potential placement of Snyder in a five-bedroom, two-story home on La Paz Avenue in northwest Fresno. Residents said the home was not suitable for Snyder because it was near a school and park.
Our contractor will continue to work with the court to identify potential housing that a judge deems appropriate for patients who are conditionally released.
Ralph Montano, spokesman for the Department of State Hospitals
The Squaw Valley property is owned by Gerardo Montejano Placencia, who was cited by the county in 2014 for growing medical marijuana. He said the plants were for a friend with testicular cancer and his mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with throat cancer. Both had medical marijuana cards for 99 plants each, he said.
After enforcement officials found 107 plants on the property Placencia was fined $107,000, but he appealed to the Board of Supervisors for leniency because he is a father of five, works in the fields and couldn’t afford the fine.
Sheriff’s deputies said he was polite and cooperative. Supervisors voted 3-2 to fine him $1,000.
Ralph Montano, a spokesman for the Department of State Hospitals, said the search for a home for Snyder will continue.
“Our contractor will continue to work with the court to identify potential housing that a judge deems appropriate for patients who are conditionally released,” he said.