South Modesto house fire investigated as attempted homicide

June 3, 2014 

Stanislaus County sheriff’s detectives on Monday were asking the public to help them find the person who started a south Modesto house fire that seriously burned a man as he escaped the blaze.

Jonathan Couch suffered second- and third-degree burns on more than 75 percent of his body. The arson case is being investigated as an attempted homicide.

No suspects have been identified, and no arrests have been made. Detective Frank Soria said they have had very little information from potential witnesses in the neighborhood.

The fire was reported about 10:50 p.m. at the home in the 300 block of Glenn Avenue, between Crows Landing Road and Seattle Street.

When the first engine arrived, firefighters saw flames coming from the back of the building. They also found one of the residents of the home, Couch, sitting at a market across the street. The man had been badly burned and was screaming in pain.

Medics treated the man and then took him to a local hospital. He later was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, which has a burn unit.

The fire gutted two rooms, and the rest of the house suffered heat and smoke damage, according to the Modesto Regional Fire Authority. Firefighters had the blaze under control within 15 minutes.

Sheriff’s officials ask anyone with information about this fire to call Detective Frank Soria at (209) 525-7080 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can email through the Crime Stoppers website, www.stancrimetips.org, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

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