Defense lawyer’s home hit by blaze |

Defense lawyer’s home hit by blaze

William Ferchland

A fire with flames up to 20 feet high ripped through a prominent defense attorney’s home on Skyline Drive late Tuesday as investigators were left wondering if the cause was accidental or malicious.

Lori London and her two children were not at the home but spending time in Santa Cruz. London’s boyfriend, Lou Pierini, was keeping in contact with her while hoping London’s cat survived.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “Unbelievable.”

Lake Valley Fire Protection District firefighters battled the blaze with help from surrounding agencies, including Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District. Jeff Michael, chief of Lake Valley, said the extra help was needed because of the size of the fire and fears that it could have spread to neighboring trees and residences.

“We brought everything,” he said.

Stopping the fire proved difficult since it kept reigniting. Michael said it took nearly 30 minutes for roughly 25 firefighters to put the fire out. Water gushed down the sloped driveway. The two-story house was ruined.

“This is a foundation at best,” Michael said. “There is nothing salvageable.”

Fire investigators Garreth Harris, with Lake Valley, and Ray Zachau, from the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department, were looking into the origin and cause of the fire, first reported shortly before 8 p.m.

People reported hearing an explosion come from the house, said Sgt. Steve Fleischmann with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. Because of that, the incident was being evaluated as a possible crime scene, Fleischmann said.

“We are going to have a deputy with (the fire investigators) all night until they determine what happened,” Fleischmann said.

Michael said there was little if any evidence of an explosion, such as shards of window glass found outside.

Smoke caught the attention of many in Tahoe Paradise, including Kyle Sullivan and Brandon Rossi, who were buying milk at Lira’s Supermarket.

“We saw the billows of smoke and glare of the flames,” Sullivan said.

Years ago London’s office caught fire from a coffee pot. The attorney is a familiar face in the El Dorado County Superior Court system from her work in criminal, juvenile and family law matters.

She recently represented accused attempted murderer Steven Wasserman and was the campaign manager for Pierini’s unsuccessful run at El Dorado County supervisor.

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