Neighbors mourn passing of Hornbrook fire victim

HORNBROOK, Calif. — The mood was somber in Hornbrook today where John Karl Burmel lived.

Many lost everything, while others are still reeling from the devastation of the fire and the loss of a neighbor, friend, and member of the community.

“All I know is, it shouldn’t have happened,” said Michelle Hanson, a close friend of Burmel.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office says the 72-year-old’s remains were found among the rubble of the home.

“It just makes me sad because I’m going to miss him,” Hanson said.

Police say Burmel was trying to evacuate, but was engulfed by the Klamathon Fire’s flames last Thursday.

“The fire was so fast and so furious,” she said.

Hanson has lived in Hornbrook for 47 years and she’s thankful that her home was spared from the flames.

“When the Sheriff came and pounded at my door…I just had no time at all,” she said.

Hanson says she knew Burmel for over 6 years and they spoke on a regular basis.

“Oh, he was terrific,” she said. “He was a very sweet, nice man.”

Deputies found his truck packed with his belongings on a road nearby. They’re speculating that he returned home, but didn’t make it out in time.

“I’m surprised that it didn’t happen to more than just him. I mean, [the fire] just came too fast and furious,” she said.

Deputies aren’t sure when exactly Burmel died, but they say it did happen on Thursday; his body was discovered on Friday.

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