Update: Victim Identified In Fatal Fire At Walnut Creek Home

Officials say Charles MacDonald, 62, died in the two-alarm blaze that heavily damaged a home on Hilltop Crescent on Friday evening

Fire vehicles surround a home on Hilltop Crescent in Walnut Creek where a man was killed in a fire Friday night
Fire vehicles surround a home on Hilltop Crescent in Walnut Creek where a man was killed in a fire Friday night
A 62-year-old man was killed in a two-alarm fire at a home in western Walnut Creek on Friday evening.

The victim was identified on Saturday morning by Contra Costa County coroner's officials as Charles MacDonald.

Contra Costa Sheriff's Sgt. Xavier Shabazz said the cause of the death won't be known until an autopsy is performed on Monday.

The Friday evening blaze erupted about 9:30 p.m. inside a two-story gray home on Hilltop Crescent.

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Prevention Capt. Robert Marshall said it took firefighters about a half-hour to extinguish the flames.

Marshall said the second floor of the home was "severely damaged."

On Saturday morning, Marshall said it would probably be several more days before investigators know exactly what caused the fire.

He said the blaze appears to have started in a bedroom on the second floor, but that hasn't been confirmed yet.

MacDonald's body was found on that second floor. Authorities said a Contra Costa Sheriff's deputy tried to reach the second floor during the fire, but the smoke and flames were too strong.

A woman who was inside the home when the fire started escaped without injury, said Marshall.

Tia Riebling, a former neighbor, said MacDonald and his wife, Annie, are loving, caring people who from time to time took in dogs as well as people who had no place else to live.

She said she's in shock over MacDonald's death.

"I'm beside myself," said Riebling. "I can't believe he's gone."

Chris Nicholson January 11, 2014 at 04:35 AM
Terrible. I'd be tracking down the houseguests "who had no place else to live."
AZ January 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM
It's very sad that in the midst of a tragedy like this Chris would take the time to display such prejudice and ignorance. How about just condolences because that's the only useful contribution we as readers who have no other information can make. The loss of someone who obviously had a good heart and open mind is a loss to our community.
David Mills (Editor) January 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Chris... there wasn't necessarily anyone else living at the home at the time of the fire. Sorry the story didn't make that more clear. I have edited that sentence to clarify.
Chris Nicholson January 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM
@AZ: pretend you are a cop or firefighter or other person interested in determing what happened here. It seems obvious that a matter of keen interest would be the indigent folks who currently or recently were houseguests. If you object to this form of "prejudice," then you must favor having fewer solved crimes. As for your charge of "ignorance,' that's a question with a knowable answer. My implicit claim is that those who invite indigent people to stay with them expose themselves to higher crime risk than those who don't. Since I am ignorant here, please educate me as to the objective truth that I am not seeing. Note that I make no moral judgement as to whether it is "good" or "bad" (on net) to invite the homeless into your home. Just that it is, statistically, dangerous.
AZ January 11, 2014 at 04:09 PM
You'll have to take my word for it that I had a long and well thought out response to you Chris, but then it hit me, I don't wish to detract from this tragedy any further with a public slanging match.
Chris Nicholson January 11, 2014 at 05:10 PM
AZ, I will stipulate that your rejoinder likely would have been powerful and elegant, but it would have failed to satisfy my curiosity about whether there is more to the story than a tragic death from an innocent/accidental ignition source. Otherwise healthy 62 year olds in homes with working smoke detectors (home sold last year, so I think it is safe to assume) don't often die in residential fires when someone else is home. World please be on notice: If I am ever found dead under potentially suspicious circumstances, please do not pause to mourn me. In lieu of condolences, please support those who seek the truth. I hope the family seeks the truth and finds some comfort in knowing what happened here.
Mike January 11, 2014 at 06:32 PM
Chris, I'm sure you're trying to be helpful. Perhaps the office of the Fire Marshall would be a better venue for you to discuss your insights into this tragedy.
Trenton Gregory January 12, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Mike , Thanks for pointing out the focus in the passing of a kind and compassionate man your sensitivity is right on the mark.
Crowley January 13, 2014 at 01:17 PM
My condolences to the man's family and friends. I can't imagine enduring something so traumatic.
michelle February 08, 2014 at 06:05 PM
I think it might better be served to look in other directions than people that were taken into their home.. Charles Mac Donald, you are loved and will forever be missed, thank you for all the great memories!


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