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Desert Heights: Breaking News – Fire Destroyed home, four dogs perish!

By   /   March 29, 2012  /   9 Comments

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Photo by B Holstrom: Standing by his burned-out home is Richard Hill of Desert Heights. Said he, "My wife died two years ago and my dogs are my family" (Richard lost four of his dogs).

Updated Friday @ 0736 (below):

Desert Heights, Twentynine Palms  – This afternoon a home near Pole Line & Lear was completely destroyed. Homeowner Richard Hill at 69079 Pole Line had fire insurance but, said he, “I lost my four dogs; they were my family.” Hill was not home at the time, but one of his tenants was there when the fire started.

Fire Chief Thomson at the scene said, “The tenant was a parolee and he fled the scene.” Chief Thomson reported that a witness near the home “saw a male tenant spraying the house with a garden hose but dropped the hose and split before the first fire Unit from the Lear Station arrived.” Said the Chief, the sheriff caught up with the tenant-parolee afterwards.

The 29 Palms Fire Department from the Lear Fire Station  Unit 422 was on the scene within six minutes, said Chief Thomson. He added “The fire was put out in 10 minutes. Chief Thomson said “investigators were coming out” to ascertain the cause of the fire.

Further, I saw the flames earlier from my home — to the West a 1 1/2 miles away. The fire was  licking the blue sky and heavy black smoke was billowing hundreds of feet upward.

Updated, Saturday Morning @ 0715  – The fire began at 1:30 while the homeowner was away from home for an hour. There is no official report from the Sheriff’s Arson Investigation unit on the cause of this fire. However, the homeowner speculated at the scene that “a fire in the electric stove blew up.”

Richard Hill said that he had taken on a tenant about two weeks ago, and it is evidenced by an eyewitness that the tenant did in fact attempt to put out the fire as described above, but apparently the oxygen-fed raging flames consumed the house in a short time (the exterior of the home was stucco).

Chief Thomson reported that ten firefighters were on the scene, two fire engine units from 29 Palms, and one unit from the Marine Base responded.

Footnote:  I asked Chief Thomson to speculate that should H&I fire tax Measure fail, and if this fire had occurred, how would this have played out. The Chief said the homeowner’s RV would have been lost and a slab would all that was left since the home was consumed in ten minutes.

Note it could be a matter of life or death for those whom live in the city limits and  the unincorporated areas of 29 Palms as good cause for voting yes on Measure H&I.

See acrimonious comments-opinions below by this contributor concerning the need for a yes vote on Measure H&I,  and the behavior of  the City Council and its City Attorney.

Firefighter Lee Martin

Firefighter Toby Belknap



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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    1000 ada boys…. great reporting…. scooped them all.

  2. Thanks Dan. City Councilmen Jim, Joel, Dan, Jay and Johnny have demonstrated by factual evidence that they do not care about you or your children. You are expendable like fire wood tossed into the flames. They care about $120,000 signs and a useless superstructure to house a second city playhouse (even thought the present playhouse has empty seats). Unbelievable but true.

    Tomorrow I will talk with Richard Hill to see if I may help him in any way that I can. For the time being he is staying in his RV parked at his burned-out home. He seems like a nice man.

    The Lear Station Unit 422 saved his RV by responding within 6 (six)minutes.

    If the fire tax Vote — Measure H&I passes, fire protection at the Lear Station can, as here, be on the scene in six minutes. If H&I fails, our homes out here in Desert Heights haven’t a chance because it’ll be much longer before the fire department can get out here from town, IF AT ALL.

    Thank goodness there were no causalities or fatalities today.

    I cannot afford it, but I will vote for the measure. It’s a matter of survival, life and death.

    Let me tell you folks that live in the city limits this important message: If Measure H&I fails, and if there is a major fire outside of town and units are respond there, your home will likely burn to the ground and you and/or your loved one may perish.

    IF the measure fails you will HAVE THE FIVE AMIGOS on the City Council held responsible because a f’ing sign and a unneeded second city playhouse is more important that human safety such that the city does not fund their own fire department. They can and they should.

    If the five amigos have a problem with my message, call me… Lets talk.

    • THE FOLLOWING IS PURE OPINION & COMMENTARY. Do not read this if you are weak at heart:

      PS, I must add to this Mr. Esq. city attorney fancy pants, Patrick A. Munoz, makes a killing every time he blows stale smoke up the amigos arise. And he, too, in my opinion doesn’t give a fiddly-damn about the safety of 29′s children and families because he is leading the council with very bad legal advice.

      He cares about making a name for himself, Rutan & Tucker, LLP and raking in the bucks. His hourly fees are spiked every time he has anything whatsoever to do with old RDA, Project Phoenix, oversight committed, etc. And his firm gets a percentage of the debt bond.

      Attorney Munoz is a shyster in my opinion. If I have standing I plan on filing a complaint against him with the State Bar. He is like — in my opinion — a jackal with fleas feeding on the blood and guts of this city, individuals, seniors, families and two future generations. This bad-advise-city attorney needs to pack his bags and head back to Orange county.

      Call me if you have a problem with my opinions Munoz. Sue me if you must. You can get my email and I’ll give you my phone number. Lets talk.

  3. Terry Elam Terry Elam says:

    There were fatalities.What’s with the parolee? Crack pipe break? Couldn’t let the dogs out?Interesting story…And the two of you are making sweet talk. LOLGood job!

  4. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    I just pointed out a Good story…. it does not mean we’ll be taking warm showers together.

  5. 2grounded 2grounded says:

    Don’t kid yourselves in the 12 years out here, I have never seen a house fire where the building was saved, lets put it this way , They always save the slab period.
    weather the fire dept gets there bank roll or not nothing is going to change the city & county are responsible for our fire protection. Its the same thing over & over again. My heart goes out for Mr Richard Hill.

    • Cora Heiser Cora Heiser says:

      I covered a house fire on my street and the house was saved and the family was very thankful to the 29 Palms Fire Department. Their house was repaired and the family is currently living in it. Pictures and story available with a search of my name.
      My family and I mailed our ballots and we voted yes. We do need a fully funded fire dept and we need to take care of our volunteers. THIS should be a no brainer. Fire Department-Good.

  6. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    Ben, Think you mean “Updated Friday”.

  7. @Larry and Dan:

    Thanks Larry. You’re a good guy. I don’t care what they say.

    Dan, it’s true there will be no warm showers, but there should be no more malicious stabbing one another in the back since both of us are working for the betterment of Cactus Thorns and it’s readers.

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