Although the investigation by Pleasanton police continues into last December's house fire on East Angela Street, the burned out house may finally be nearing a teardown.
Neighbors and others, including those using the St. Augustine Catholic Church main driveway directly across from the charred structure at 839 E.Angela St., have complained in recent weeks to city officials and the Pleasanton Weekly that the house has become a neighborhood eyesore.
Last week, crews from Betchner Construction ripped out some of the inside walls and pulled dumpster-loads of debris from the home that was once owned and was still being lived in at the time of the fire by Deonna Zuffa, 40, and her family. The work indicates that all physical evidence has been analyzed and removed. Police have classified the fire as arson.
Joanne Hall, spokeswoman for the city of Pleasanton, said the work crews have not yet obtained a city permit for demolition of the house, which is required by municipal law.
The fire at the Zuffa home began at 11 a.m. Dec. 8. Deonna Zuffa, 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 a total loss. The Zuffa family's two dogs were not injured in the fire as they had been taken to a pet groomer, fire officials said.
Sgt. Jim Knox of the Pleasanton Police Department has 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 gasoline may have contributed to the explosion or fire.
Police have also declined to say where the fire started, a fast-burning blaze that also damaged two neighboring homes and displaced a second family. The investigation has been prolonged because police have not been able to speak with Deonna Zuffa, who was reportedly recovering from second- and third-degree burns at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, but has since been moved to another care facility. Police, her family and hospital spokespeople have declined to give an update on her condition.
Zuffa and her husband Keith filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in June 2008, according to public records. Records also show the home, at one time valued at nearly $1 million, was sold for $75,000 in a foreclosure sale on Sept. 30 to Marilyn and Richard Greenberg in the name of the Greenberg Trust.
Since the December fire, the Zuffa home has been surrounded by a tall fence. Other homes also burned by the fire have since been repaired and neighbors called the Zuffa property "a continuing eyesore" that needed to be removed.