On Sunday, October 7, 2018, at 4:40 a.m., the Cottonwood Fire Protection District received a report of a structure fire at 3320 Willow Street, Cottonwood, CA. Upon arrival, fire personnel discovered the single family residence at the location was on fire and immediate fire suppression efforts began. During the initial investigation, a body of a deceased person was located inside the burned residence. Detectives and Investigators believe the decedent is the elderly female occupant known to reside at the location. The family of the known occupant at this residence has been contacted. An autopsy is scheduled for October 10, 2018 where positive identity should be made.
At 5:07 a.m., another structure fire was reported a short distance away at 3460 Hickory Street, Cottonwood. Additional fire personnel responded to Hickory Street and that fire was quickly extinguished as the structure was a small shed at the rear of residence.
Cottonwood Fire Protection District, as well as members of the Shasta County Arson Task Force, worked together and determined that both fires were suspicious and possible acts of arson. The Shasta County Arson Task Force is comprised of investigators from several agencies that include, CAL Fire, Redding Fire Department, Anderson Fire Protection District, Redding Police Department, Anderson Police Department, Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Justice. Detectives with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, Major Crimes Unit also responded to assist with the death investigation. Based upon the totality of the circumstances the Major Crimes Unit is investigating the death of the occupant from 3320 Willow Street as a homicide.
As previously reported, there have been a series of suspicious fires over the last several months occurring in the downtown Cottonwood Area. All of the suspicious fires have been actively investigated by the Cottonwood Fire Protection District, the Shasta County Arson Task Force and the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. All agencies continue to actively investigate and follow up on leads to identify the suspect(s) responsible for these fires. Additional information may be released in the future if it will assist with the apprehension of the suspect(s). Specific information about these fires as to cause, origin, as well as other pieces of evidence cannot be released as this is an open, on-going and active investigation.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office recommends to all residents in the affected Cottonwood area to utilize exterior lighting at night and if your property is equipped with video surveillance to ensure it is recording and operational. If any Cottonwood resident has surveillance footage of suspicious persons on their property since June they need to call the Major Crimes Unit as it may be relevant to this investigation. If anyone observes any suspicious activity of person(s) trespassing on property, loitering and prowling they should call the Sheriff’s Office at 530-245-6540 or if it is an emergency call 9-1-1.
The Major Crimes Unit is strongly urging anyone that has information about these fires and homicide to contact the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 530-245-6135 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.