A 62-year-old Walnut Creek man was found dead in the embers of his Hilltop Crescent duplex after fire swept through the residence late Friday.
Charles MacDonald’s wife returned from an evening out to report seeing flames burning through the top level of the two-story home at 190 Hilltop Crescent around 9:30 p.m. Friday. A rescuer, an off-duty battalion chief who happened to live nearby according to ConFire Capt. Robert Marshall, entered the home and conducted an initial search of the residence after the woman reported that her husband was on the top floor and that she had not seen him get out.
Photo: The photo used with this story was taken at an earlier Walnut Creek house fire and is used for illustrative purposes here.
Attempts to find MacDonald were unsuccessful and the firefighter was driven back by heavy smoke and fire on the second story. A second alarm was called when Contra Costa County Fire Protection District firefighters arrived to find the residence heavily involved and already half destroyed, according to Fire Capt. Robert Marshall.
County Sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee offered a slightly different version of events, saying it was a Deputy Sheriff who actually gained entry to the home and attempted to find MacDonald.
Additional efforts to reach the man also proved unsuccessful, Marshall said. MacDonald was eventually found in the upstairs hallway of his home. Marshall described damage done to the home as extensive and the second story “a total loss.”
The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. Fire officials confirmed reports that MacDonald was a smoker, though there was no immediate indication that smoking played a role in starting the blaze.
The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District are jointly investigating the fire, Lee said.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to call the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600.