HURON, Calif. -
It all started on a cold afternoon, when the owner of this home in Huron, tried to start a fire.
"He had tried to light a fire in his fireplace and he had heard somebody calling out for help in the chimney", says Jake Jensen with the Fresno County Sheriffs Office.
The man inside the chimney had apparently tried to break into the home. The house filled with smoke, while the owner tried to put out the flames. The homeowner was gone yesterday, but returned home today.
Jensen says, "don't have any idea how long he had been in there, the home owner noticed some of his stuff had been rummaged through, he thinks the guy did get into the chimney last night".
Fresno County Sheriffs Office officials say even they were shocked at what they saw. Jensen says, "I've been a deputy for 17 years now and i've never seen anything like this".
Crews got to the scene within a few minutes and began taking apart the chimney. At the time they believed the suspect was still breathing and moving inside.
"They used drills and chisels to take a part the chimney and try to get the person out", says Jensen.
Crews worked to dismantle the brick structure, but when they got to the suspect, he was dead. The Fresno County Sheriffs Office provided these pictures for us, showing what the chimney looked like afterwards. "Like I said even the fire guys had never seen anything like this before", says Jensen.
The suspect has not yet been identified. Authorities believe he was in his early 20's. Deputies say there had been other break-in's in the neighborhood recently, but they didn't know if the suspect was responsible for those crimes.