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Police: East Angela Street house fire was arson

Original post made on Apr 8, 2009

The Pleasanton Weekly has learned that a December house fire on East Angela Street that left one woman severely injured is being ruled as arson.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 6:03 AM

Comments (46)

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm

As a resident of the P-Heights neighborhood I witnessed the horrible fire that tore through the Zuffa's home that tragic December day. I also knew all too well of the Zuffa's collection of both classic & race cars which on most Thursday & Friday afternoons during the summer were being prepped, fueled & loaded onto their transport truck to take them off to race. So it comes to no surprise that after reading the accounts of their financial situation & subsequent bankruptcy filings that some form of foul play was likely involved. You like to think that this just doesn't happen "in my neighborhood" but with tough times comes tough (& apparently, foolish) decisions.

Posted by marie, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Guess everyone who had questions when this happened might be right! I still feel sorry for the children, there lives are for ever changed because of adult decisions.

Posted by Sorry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Sorry to hear this news of arson. It will be hard to really prove who "lit the match". I do feel like the community was duped by the family into thinking this was a horritable accident. I am sorry for the children and hope that they can recieve counciling.

Posted by Zuffa neighbor, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

My family lives a few houses away from the Zuffa's and this tragedy affected our neighborhood, as well as the entire Pleasanton community. Please, do not let your hearts be hardened by the fact that this fire has been ruled arson. We all donated to this family with giving hearts and a spirit of wanting to help a family in need.

I am in no way condoning what has now come to light, I am simply saying the two boys' lives have been forever altered. Even more so, now that it's come to light this fire was not an accident. These boys are in the most formative years of their lives and will now have to go do school daily with others talking behind their backs, pointing at them etc. I can't begin to imagine what they've already endured and what is to come for these boys. This is such a tragic incident and I'm certain you would all agree, the Zuffa boys didn't ask for this, this is not their fault.

So if you're feeling "duped" by the fact you donated to this family, maybe you could feel peaceful with your donation if you changed your mind set.......what you gave/donated helped the two young school boys of this family who were and continue to be, the innocent victims in this mess.

As the truth continues to emerge and justice is rendered, I continue to pray for these boys and this family. Such a sad situation.

Posted by TI, a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 9, 2009 at 10:02 am

Well said "neighbor".

Posted by Ghetto Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2009 at 10:25 am

By the writings on this thread it looks as if you all assume that the conclusion of "arson" automatically means that the someone in the family is responsible for the fire. Maybe someone was not happy with the family in the racing world??? You never know. It has sounded very suspicious from the beginning, but let's continue to wait for further findings.

Those of you who donated to this family, should have done so out of the goodness of your hearts, so arson or not, you did the right thing. It is a sad situation for this family, either way. Can you imagine feeling so desperate that you would endanger your own life as well as the lives of others to get out of whatever particular matter seems so bad??? So sad.....

Posted by Amanda, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm

I also feel awful for these boys. I really hope that adults don't criticize the Zuffa's in front of their children, which could provoke kids into saying something cruel to the Zuffa kids. Please don't talk about it in front of your children. This is not something kids will be aware of unless adults make them aware. Or if you do talk, do it with sympathy. With all the traffic and people crowding my street because of a church, let something good come out of the fact that Pleasanton residents go to church, and act like a decent human being about this. Give the Zuffa kids love and support.

Posted by lisa, a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm

75,000 dollars???????
When did that go up for bid?????
How could a home in Pleasanton be sold for that amount?
That is suspicious if you ask me. That home looks like it was probably worth nearly 1 million. How in the world was it sold for $75,000?

Posted by me, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Sounds like more than the fire should be under investigation.
The amount that home sold for is well under-valued.
Those vultures must have been circling.

Posted by YoMama, a resident of Amador Estates
on Apr 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm

The fact that their dogs weren't in the house sure makes it sound like the folks that lived in that house were responsible for the fire (especially since they lost the house to foreclosure). I'm guessing the woman set the fire and didn't get out as fast as she should have to avoid the burns.

Posted by friends of family, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Apr 9, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Yomama needs to be quiet and keep his htought to himself. just imagine what the kids would htink if they read that.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm

"75,000 dollars???????
When did that go up for bid?????
How could a home in Pleasanton be sold for that amount?"

Public records show they had refinanced more than once, and at some point, in the latest refinancing, the people who bought their house for 75K acted as lenders.

This was not a typical foreclosure. The now owners essentially acted as a "bank" (lender).

Posted by Missy, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 10, 2009 at 12:22 am

I believe I read in a past post that the "Greenbergs" are related to the Zuffa family. And their name is connected with other financial transactions. So they are more than just a "bank", and may have more invested in the house. I wonder if they have been interviewed by the police?

Posted by Sorry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2009 at 8:35 am

I do feel sorry for the children BUT apples don't fall far from the tree. I still feel "duped" for giving money to this family.

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 10, 2009 at 10:17 am

Sorry that I opened up such a can of worms here & yes, those poor children will be scarred by this for the rest of their lives.

Lisa & others brought up some very good points though. House sells to a "favorable" party (Greenbags) for under valued amount of $75K. The house meanwhile is insured for likely at least $1M. You'd have to talk to someone more versed in the legal issues surrounding their obligation to either re-build the home, collect the remaining $925K & buy/build elsewhere (stay @ home mom's are horrible attorneys) but with so much money at stake it sounds tempting to me even. Even so, I don't regret donating to the family either as everything came from our boys insistence & from their closets.

Maybe I'm just watching too many of those crime,CSI & detective shows on TV but...?

Posted by Yomama, a resident of Amador Estates
on Apr 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Hey "friends of family", what do you think this forum is for? It's for people to express their opinions regardless if YOU agree with such opinions or not. And if the Zuffas are guilty of arson, do you think the police will just "keep their thoughts to themself" so they don't upset the children?

Posted by Nancy, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Hey Nosy Neighbor,

I'm a stay @ home mom and I'm a great attorney!

Posted by WalterK, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 10, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Is it not obvious that she was the only one home, she lit the match,[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]. Now the only thing that remains agreed upon is that the kids are truly the "victims" along with the poor neighbors whose homs suffered damage. How about Mr. Zuffa? Has anyone stopped to think of what he might be going through????? Who knows how he is handling the fact that he has lost everything,[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language], and the emotional stress of starting over with two children that are probably emoitional roller coasters.

BTW PW is there any report on the condition of Mrs. Zuffa?

Posted by Janet Pelletier, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2009 at 3:03 pm

WalterK, no, there is no update on her condition. Police have declined to say.

Posted by strictly gossip, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2009 at 3:34 pm

In no way should anyone feel "duped". The donations went to a greatful dad an boys who were destroyed by their wife/mothers behavior and you should feel good for helping them.

[Portion removed due to unsubstantiated allegations]

Regardless of the complicitness of the wife the boys and "clueless" husband were and are in need both financially and emotionally. Wait to see the results of the investigation!!!!!!!

Posted by Moneytrees, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Apr 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm

What is also a shame is the example this family set for their children. As they were spiraling downward in financial issues, they continued with an extremely expensive hobby--the racing.

I know it's important to have activities that join the family together, but if you can't pay the price you need to find something else.

They went into foreclosure and still found money to continue.

I agree that their children's lives will forever be touched by all these tragedies.

Posted by lisa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2009 at 5:01 pm

People don't have enough money to pay mortgage.
People are foreclosed.
Relatives buy foreclosed home for $75,000.
Home burns.
Insurance pays real value of over one mil.

Posted by Sorry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Let me just throw this out here, why has there been zero comment from the Zuffa's? Mr. Z was jonny on the spot to be at the Saturday market to collect donations but not to publicly give an update on his wife or even a public thank you......I'm still feeling duped!!!

Posted by TyposMuch, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm

$75K? I think that's a typo. $750 makes a lot more sense.

You don't insure a house for the whole property value, just the value of the building. They insure you to rebuild, say $150 or $200 per square foot. So if the house is 2,00 square feet, the policy would only be for $400,000.

If you wanted to get rid of a property, burning it down to collect the insurance leaves you with a pile of rubble and a piece of land that is put-near impossible to sell.

Okay, so someone wanted to burn down the house? But who?

Certainly not the owners, the Rosenbergs. They had a tenant, they probably owned the house outright.

Certainly not the tenants, the Zuffas, since they didn't own the house so they wouldn't be eligible to collect the fire insurance. They could have sold their precious cars if they needed the cash.

Maybe there is a love triangle?

Posted by rumor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2009 at 7:18 am

(Comment removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as innuendo, hearsay or specific accusatory information unsupported by facts.)

Posted by OpportunityKnox, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 11, 2009 at 8:31 am

"Sorry" above makes a good point.

It is unusual to have the victim themselves collecting the "please help us" money.

Maybe it's just a case of bad manners, but if someone is going to see to it for themselves that $$$ is collected, it does seem a bit opportunistic.

Posted by CarRacing, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 11, 2009 at 8:37 am

Re - car racing, they may not have been paying for it.

The sponsors may have already covered the costs and they were fulfilling their obligations.

That said, if they had dipped into and spent the sponsorship money ahead for personal expenses, then they could have been in some trouble.

Posted by racer buddy, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 12, 2009 at 10:57 pm

I have to chime in for those who are unaware, the cars the zuffas raced were called quarter midgets or possibly 3/4 midget, basically a glorified go kart! Not very expensive to race and a great introduction to excel into more serious forms of racing. Not really nescessary to have sponsors other than marketing a good driver. Also... truly an excellent activity for the whole family. As far as gas storage? VERY minimal and nothing to concern neighbors for a fact!!!!!! Especially since gas is always purchased at the track before each race. I'm certain the kids miss this activity, especially with the family.
I hope deonna is doing ok dispite however this tragitey happened, I pray that the kids are ok and hope the family will overcome this somehow. Times are tough enough without the added drama from people that feel they need to point fingers! This family has suffered enough don't you think?

Posted by WalterK, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 14, 2009 at 11:13 am

The kids have suffered enough, but unfortunately will continue to suffer for years to come. Has Mr. Zuffa suffered enough???? More than enough I would think. He too lost everything he had and now has to be tough for those for Mrs. Zuffa, I would think the authorities will determine if she has suffered enough.

How about the displaced neighbors, how are they doing? They have definately suffered enough.

Posted by Kari, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Despite the recent ruling of arson my heart still goes out to De and the entire Zuffa family. I don't and nor will I EVER regret donating to this family. And if in the future they are in need of anything else that I would be able to help them out with, I would have no second thoughts before giving to them.

Our prayers and thoughts are still with you De, Devon and the rest of your family.

Kari and Cody

Posted by Blessed, a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 14, 2009 at 8:39 pm

To "Sorry", a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood: You should be ashamed of yourself. "Apples don't fall far from the tree"? You obviously don't know that family, or those children. We don't know all the details, but don't let what their parents may have done fall on those kids. They are just children.

And, if you really still feel "duped" then I feel sorry for you. I gladly donated to them and didn't feel duped when I found out it was arson. It's not your job to judge others, thank God for that.

Posted by Sydney, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2009 at 9:19 am

Well let me just say to those who feel "duped".....time will tell the story better than the authorities have. I have had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Zuffa through a mutual friend on numerous occasions. He and his boys, despite their losses, are doing surprisingly well. You should not feel duped as I would say they are extremely humble and grateful for all of the well wishes and donations they have received. I will just ask for the patience of those skeptical....soon the truth shall come out. With the minor details that I have been told there are major developments, and some pretty shocking details. The authorities just need get this done. Good day all.

Posted by interesting, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2009 at 4:37 pm

The thoughts on here are really interesting to me. People think that both parties knew the people that purchased the home for $75K. They automatically assume that it is a "family member". Ever think about loans? Just because these people are on title and they purchased this home at $75K does not erase the previous loans on the house. I doubt the previous lender would "allow" a $75K purchase price when they owed a couple of hundred thousand on the home. Lenders need to approve this stuff people!!! Don't you think that everyone would be selling their homes for prices like that if they could if they had financial issues? Obviously there is something fishy/wrong with the whole deal.

Also I would think that it would be pretty hard to collect insurance money on a home that is in foreclosure that has been labeled as arson.

Third thought I find interesting- do you think that either Mr. Zuffa or his wife CAN say anything at this point? Obviously there is an investigation going on and that means that people involved aren't at liberty to air their thoughts on a blog such as this or any other type of media. For people that feel like they are "duped"- wow -how about you wait until you actually hear what happened before we jump to conclusions. Heck once you do you find out may feel like it was a good thing you donated. There is obviously more going on than what the average joe knows at this point.

Posted by WalterK, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 7:47 am

Well said "interesting"!!!! I dont think that there is too much any Zuffa family member could say at this point without jeopardizing the ongoing investigation. With that being said...what in the sam hell is taking so long. I can watch a marathon of CSI and they can figure out terrorist cells, but our finest here in Pleasanton can't solve a simple house fire.....PLEASE someone just come clean and tell the people of Pleasanton where this stands; or is it easier for the community to go hire John Walsh from Americas Most Wanted. He seems to find criminals from previous decades........PLEASE Pleasanton PD/FD FIGURE THIS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By the way, just one last thought. If indeed this was arson why has the district attorney's office not released a statement. Isn't that why we pay our taxes....for that office to to do its job and protect us citizens??? Just a thought.

Posted by Sorry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I'm still feeling duped. I understand that there is an open arson investigation but to my knowledge the Zuffa family has not extended a "thank you for your support" statement to the public. The Zuffa silence is becoming deafing. It's my understand that both neighbors have not heard one pep from the Zuffa's. I'm just smelling a real smokey fish and I'm sorry I gave him money.

Posted by Familly acquaintance, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Apr 23, 2009 at 7:22 pm

To Sorry, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood. For your information a personal "Thank You" was mailed to everyone that they had addresses for. You don't have a clue what this family has been through. They are grateful for the donations and support from everyone. Nothing more can be said!!! I'm sorry you feel "duped". Imagine one day only having the clothes on your back and how great it is having the support of your community and friends. They are very appreciative and grateful for everyone coming to their aid. I'm sorry you're so bitter and feeling "duped".

Posted by Out of the fog, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 28, 2009 at 9:39 am

To TyposMuch & Sorry. Get a grip! For Sorry, Turn off the Sopranos! It was not a Competitor in the Race world. Also, no one, and I mean NO ONE, cares about your donation and that you feel duped! You want your donation back? Go ask for it. I dare you! How much was it anyways? $50.00? As for TyposMuch, the GO-KARTS are not worth anything and I am not sure you any of your facts right regarding ownership. I am not sure you should accuse people who are not and never have been involved.

Now let's get out of the fog. [Portion of comment removed due to unsubstantiated facts] Having said that, these kids have been launched into the land of reality and are unprepared. As a community, and they are part of this community, it is our responsibility to help them in any way we can! To anyone else who thinks those kids should suffer, I hope you never do anything wrong in your life and I hope your children don't have to pay for your mistakes.

Posted by WalterK, a resident of Castlewood
on May 4, 2009 at 10:13 am

Hey PW, can you please once again follow up on this story. Yet again it has been almost a month since the last round of updates from authorities, and we still know nothing other than arson. I hate driving past the mess regularly thinking "boy i would sure like some answers" long is this going to stay covered up????? Is there something that deep and dark that the authorities will not give out the details??? For goodness sakes it was a housefire!!!!!!! None the less, it was arson and I know I am not the only one who would really appreciate some closure on this.

Posted by Janet Pelletier, managing editor of the Pleasanton Weekly, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm

We're still continuing to check in with the police department regularly on this, and so far, the investigation has not been completed yet, and there is no news to report.

Posted by get real, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm

For those of you who feel "sorry" or "duped" you've got to be kidding me! Really their children, what if something as tragic happened to you, im pretty sure you would want kids supporting you. people who feel that way are insanely rude and disrespectful. The family appreciates everything you have done for them in this tragedy. They sent out letters, they've told people thank you. maybe their to busy to get on the internet and read all of this nonsense and then post something saying thank you. Im pretty sure their probably still trying to get their lives back on track. As for the arson, whether or not it was don't you think you all should wait for the results before coming up with assumptions that Mrs. Zuffa did it? Yea it suspicious and were all waiting for the truth, but come on would you honestly want people making assumptions about you over the internet. Get real people!

Posted by get real, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm

** im pretty sure YOU would want People supporting YOUR KIDS.**

Posted by racing for life, a resident of San Ramon
on May 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm

It is sad to hear that the fire has been ruled arson. I have known the Zuffa family for about 7 years. I cannot believe that the family would have a part in this. They are such a great family and they are all victims in different ways.

I raced quarter midgets with Devon and I got a Legends car and Devon started racing Micro Midgets. For your information, Micro Midgets do cost a lot of money to race and sponsors play a HUGE part. That is the reason as to why they still raced while having financial problems. Just thought I would throw that out there.

Posted by WalterK, a resident of Castlewood
on May 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Hey PW yet another week has gone by and.......NOTHING YET!!!!! Hey maybe someone from the authorities can answer why it is taking so long. Just staying on top of it. Keep us posted.......ASAP

Posted by Community Member, a resident of Avila
on May 15, 2009 at 11:15 am

Our police and fire department are doing the right thing- taking the time to develop a proper investigation with a solid conclusion.

As for the boys and how this will impact them - my prayers go to them and the entire family. In a worst case scenario, the family should consider moving to a new community, for a fresh start. The ability to pick up and move is a blessing our country affords us. We're also a very forgiving people, for those who honestly ask for forgiveness.

Posted by Sydney, a resident of Golden Eagle
on May 18, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Well I for one agree with Mr, Walter; this has been ongoing for too long. To "community member", I agree that the police and fire have more than likely done an outstanding job with the investigation; with that being said the only thing they have not not done is let the public know what really happened. I have no doubt that they know the answers, but as we near the six month mark since the fire the lack of knowledge is really concerning. Is there anyone going to be charged for the arson? Is the site ever going to be cleaned so the remains of the home do not linger in our thoughts as we pass through? Do the immediate neighbors have to continue to wonder if the "arsonist" is really an arsonist??? or just someone with a screwed up agenda gone wrong. All of these questions disappear with a little info from the folks involved in the investigation. Just my two cents.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 21, 2009 at 10:49 am

I live on E. Angela and noticed this morning there was a crew of men working on the house. Looked to be like starting clean-up. This is the first time I've seen anybody behind the fence or doing anything to the house since the first week or so after the fire. Wonder if this means the investigation is now finished and clean-up/rebuild can possibly begin. Sure would be nice to have something done, as the house is an eye sore for the neighborhood.

PW......anything from you?

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