UPDATE: Third home lost

NEEDLES — A residential fire that began in an unoccupied house at 202 I St. in Needles claimed two more homes Saturday afternoon.

City of Needles heavy equipment was being used around 7 p.m. to demolish the third home so firefighters could gain access to finish extinguishing the blaze. All three homes, one of which was being lived in, were a total loss. Firefighter Adam Hoffman, serving as incident commander, said no one was home and no one was hurt.

Neighbor John Hughes, who said firefighters did a good job in keeping his home next door at Broadway and I Street from catching fire, said the blaze started about 1 p.m. He said he’d seen the inside of the second house to burn and that it was full of trash.

The neighborhood in Needles is also home to a Jack-in-the-Box Restaurant and an abandoned Valero gas station.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department reported an aggressive attack on the initial blaze was hindered by live power lines, low water pressure and temperatures reaching 115 degrees. Erratic winds from an incoming thunderstorm added to the difficulty. The storm cooled temperatures significantly but added little water to the effort.

In all, 16 firefighters from San Bernardino County Fire, Mojave Valley Fire and Ft. Mojave Fire responded along with law enforcement and city of Needles personnel.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by San Bernardino County Fire investigators. Anyone with information is asked to contact We-Tip at 800-47-ARSON (800-472-7766) or dispatch at 909-356-3805.

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