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Newcastle house fire cause remains a mystery

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The cause of a fire that heavily damaged a vacant Newcastle house is now being described as “undetermined.” The fire was initially investigated as suspicious but Newcastle Fire District Chief Jay Love said Monday that no determination has been made on whether it was set or was accidental. The possibility of a homeless squatter was broached by neighbors, who had seen a vehicle at the 8500-block Highway 193 house about a week before the May 5 fire. But investigators have been unable to make any connection between the fire and a possible squatter, Love said. “The good news is that no vacant houses have gone up in flames since then,” Love said. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office did make an arrest May 11 after a burglary in a nearby, unoccupied house. But there was no connection as of Monday, according to Love. The May 5 fire consumed part of the 68-year-old house, located about a half-mile from Newcastle’s commercial district. About a third of the house was burned down to a charred frame. A Texas bank had taken over the property after a foreclosure.