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.
Sgt. Jim Knox of the Pleasanton Police Department, who initially called the fire at 839 E. Angela "suspicious," said the investigation has not been wrapped up yet.
"It has been classified an arson, however I can't make any other type of comment at this point on any additional details," Knox said Tuesday. "We're still waiting for some additional pieces of evidence to come in and some other follow-up investigation, so hopefully we will have the investigation wrapped up in the next month or so."
The fire began at 11 a.m. Dec. 8. Deonna Zuffa, 40, who was the only person home, was witnessed by neighbors running out of the home, engulfed by flames. Neighbors said they heard a loud explosion that shook the ground, followed by the blaze that has left the single-story home located across the street from St. Augustine Catholic Church a total loss. The Zuffa family's two dogs were not injured in the fire as they were being taken to a pet groomer, fire officials have said.
Knox declined to say who police believe caused the arson. Police have acknowledged that the Zuffa family, which includes Deonna Zuffa's husband and their two children, owned muscle cars and go-karts and had gasoline containers stored in the garage, but declined to say whether the gas may have contributed to the explosion or fire. Police have also declined to say where the fire was started, which also damaged two neighboring homes and displaced a second family.
The investigation was prolonged for months due to the fact that police hadn't spoken with Deonna Zuffa, who was recovering from second- and third-degree burns at St. Francis Memorial Hospital's Bothin Burn Center in San Francisco. Knox said police have interviewed a number of people, now including Deonna Zuffa, but he declined to give an update on her condition.
Zuffa and her husband Keith filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy last June, according to public records. Records also show the home was sold for $75,000 in a foreclosure sale on Sept. 30 to Marilyn and Richard Greenberg in the name of the Greenberg Trust.
The house fire has remained the talk of the immediate neighborhood, located east of downtown. Since the fire, and after police, fire and insurance officials collected contents from the home, it has been boarded up and secured by a chain link fence, which many neighbors have complained is a blight.
An official with the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department said in a type of incident where a house fire is classified as arson, repairs or renovations cannot be made until a criminal investigation is closed.
"Once we turn it over to the property owners, it's their responsibility to work with their insurance carrier to restore or repair the home," said LPFD Assistant Fire Marshal Tom Grappone.