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Dome Valley shooting and house explosion still being investigated
The Yuma County Sheriff's Office is continuing its investigation into an explosion and fire at a home in the unincorporated area of Dome Valley, following a possible homicide and standoff with a suspect on Friday afternoon.
YCSO has not released the identities of the victims. However, a mailbox on the property listed residents' last name as Firestone at Bat Mountain Ranch.
Capt. Eben Bratcher said the sheriff's office would like to speak to anyone who may have known the two individuals whose badly burned bodies were found in the house. Anyone who may have known the victims is being asked to call 783-4427 and ask for investigations.
Bratcher added that autopsies have not yet been performed, so it is still too early to positively confirm the identifies of the deceased. However, he added that the sheriff's office suspects the bodies belong to two people who are said to be husband and wife.
Wellton police and sheriff deputies responded to a report of a murder at about 1:30 p.m. at the 22300 block of East County 8th Street. According to YCSO, a man called the agency and said he had just shot his ill wife at that location. He then hung up the phone.
When deputies and police arrived at the scene, a man allegedly shot at them from inside the residence, striking a law enforcement vehicle. While the suspect reportedly continued to shoot, a large explosion occurred inside the home, knocking a deputy to the ground.
“At least one person was shooting from inside the residence,” Bratcher said. “It also does appear the blast was intentionally set, but we don't know why.”
The YCSO special response team (SRT) escorted firefighters as they approached the home to put out the fire, which had been caused by the explosion. While doing so, SRT members found an undetonated improvised explosive device near the residence.
The sheriff's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team then secured the device and searched the remainder of the residence. The team cleared the home's exterior and ascertained that no other hazards remained around the building.
However, the team could not immediately enter the house, which was built of brick, concrete and rebar, due to security doors and an interior steel door with steel pins. All windows were also built of heavy steel which restricted entry.
With help from the Tri Valley and Wellton fire departments, YCSO investigators finally got inside the home Saturday afternoon, where they found the remains of two individuals and two dead dogs.
Investigators found the main bedroom and living room heavily damaged from the explosion and fire with the roof caved in. They also located 15 five-gallon propane bottles in the same place as the two individuals. Two propane bottles appear to have bullet holes in them, possibly indicating the explosion was intentional.
The deputy knocked down in the explosion was taken to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.