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Fire mystery at 'haunted' mansion coming uncloaked

Monday, August 13, 2012

A mystery is coming uncloaked. An overnight fire at a "haunted" mansion in Clovis was not supernatural, according to firefighters.

Wolfe Manor has frequently been targeted by burglars.

Action News showed you on a series of recorded crimes in May.

But this is a first of its kind crime.

A neighbor called firefighters to the home on Clovis Ave., between Gettysburg and Shaw, just before 2.a.m.

This is not a case of paranormal activity at the haunted mansion.

Firefighters say they know exactly how the fire started, and it was arson.

At two in the morning, the ghosts are known to come out at Wolfe Manor, especially here in the basement.

In the home's days as a sanitarium, dead bodies stayed downstairs for days, and ghost hunters say the spirits remain.

But the charred wood leading to the basement door -- while not normal -- is also not evidence of paranormal activity. Clovis firefighters were the only presence felt here at 2 a.m. Monday.

"There have been vandals for quite some time and the owner's been dealing with that and who knows?" said Clovis fire chief Lee Kraft. "They might've been out partying or playing around or just trying to light a fire to see what it could do."

Some of the guys who've worked on Wolfe Manor over the last 15 years checked out the damage later in the morning.

"If you stand here long enough you can smell the gasoline," said one of those workers, Terry Campbell.

They've become accustomed to unusual activity of the human kind in the house, usually after reality TV shows feature the house.

Vandals even uploaded video of break-ins to YouTube earlier this year and later, a group of teens was arrested for burglarizing the place.

But this fire is a first.

"This is a lot different than kids sneaking in with girls or whatever," said Scott Gruenwald, who's also dedicated a lot of time to rebuilding Wolfe Manor. "This is hate and this is bad."

And although the fire caused less than $10,000 in damage, it's still enough to break the spirits of those who've worked to turn the place into a paranormal attraction.

"It's heartbreaking because this place has a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this place," said Campbell.

Firefighters are following up on leads about a person who was seen walking away from the home last night, but so far, they don't have any suspects.

The owner is still planning to remodel the house and make it a haunted bed and breakfast.

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Tags:
fresno county, clovis, fire, arson, crimetracker, local, corin hoggard
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