A house fire at 4531 Salmon Falls Road, off Highway 49, in Pilot Hill on Sunday evening took the lives of two local residents.
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The deceased were identified to the Gazette by Xanthyia (Stephens) Fain as her sister, Steve Etta, and brother-in-law, Steve Cook. The couple had moved to the family home from Alaska more than five years ago after Steve Etta’s health began to fail. Her body was reportedly found “cowering in the pantry,” said Fain, and Steve’s body was found in the family room recliner.
The home, originally built in 1905 by Fain’s great-grandfather, Francisco “Frank” Coster, belonged to Jack (deceased) and Yvonne Stephens, who operated an antique store in Pilot Hill for many years, as well as grew a large garden. Reportedly there were Bayley House artifacts inside the home.
According to reports, the home was fully engulfed when firefighters from Cool (El Dorado County Fire) first arrived on-scene at approximately 6 p.m. They tried to make entry through the back door, but were unable. They were finally able to enter through the front, but had to evacuate as the blaze quickly expanded and the structure became unsafe. A neighbor notified firefighters that there were people inside, but firefighters were unable to get to them. The bodies were found at approximately 11 p.m.
Also dispatched to the inferno were Garden Valley, Coloma, and Rescue fire, as well as Georgetown Fire paramedics and El Dorado County Sheriff’s officers.
Investigators from both Cal Fire and EDSO are working on the cause of the fire, which remains under investigation.