The remains of what appeared to be a woman were found today in a suburban San Diego home that burned down Saturday after a man called 911 claiming to have shot his wife and saying he was going to set their house on fire.
The remains of one body, which authorities said today appeared to be that of a 60-year-old man, were removed from the rubble after the fire was extinguished Saturday, but officials have not identified the victim.
The blaze in Santee, Calif., caused a neighbor's house to catch fire, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, because firefighters were hindered by threats from someone inside the house and the sound of explosions as the house burned.
The fire at the home, which public records indicate belonged to 60-year-old Michael Cour and 70-year-old Janice Gervais since 1999, was reported at 2:40 p.m. Saturday.
The World Savings Bank had foreclosed on the property on Dec. 6, and the couple filed for voluntary bankruptcy last summer, according to KABC-TV Los Angeles.
A man called 911 Saturday afternoon and told deputies that he had shot his wife and was going to burn his house down, at which point a homicide unit from the shriff's department was immediately sent to the scene.
The man also said he would shoot any deputies who showed up, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Neighbors speaking with ABC News affiliate KGTV in San Diego said they smelled gas coming from the house before the fire.
Nathan Hoover, one of the neighbors, also said he thought his neighbor was joking when he told him and his roommates on Saturday that he was going to burn down his house.
Hoover said that within minutes he saw flames shooting from the house and he began to hear unusual loud noises.
"Here we are smelling gasoline in the house coming over, so we knew that he wasn't messing around," Hoover said.
"There were explosions ... so he must have owned a lot of ammunition or had plans or something," he said. "You could hear the pow ... that type of sound."
Speaking with KGTV, Hoover said that he knows little about the residents at the house, but he said it was a man and wife, whose names he never knew.
Santee Deputy Fire Chief Richard Mattick said firefighters who arrived on the scene were not able to immediately enter the house, as there was a clear threat that an armed man may be inside.
"Our primary concern, of course, is life safety, our personnel and the public," Mattick said. "We don't know the quantity that's in there, we don't know if there are weapons or gunpowder in there extra ... so we take those things very seriously."
The fire, which was declared extinguished at 3:30 p.m., destroyed the home and caused damage to a nearby home, according to a Heartland Fire Department dispatcher.
Once the fire was officially out, firefighters discovered the charred remains of one person, and began searching for a second body.
Speaking to the San Diego Union-Tribune, neighbor Ruth Taloza said the man who lived in the house recently came to her home to give her an air compressor. When she walked across the street to thank him, he revealed that his wife has cancer, and that they were losing their home.
"He told me they're being kicked out of their home and they were both laid off from their jobs," Taloza said. "They had tried for a lower loan rate and were denied."
The sheriff's bomb arson squad and a homicide unit are investigating the incident, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.