WATSONVILLE -- Fire officials found the charred body of a man in the debris of a fire on the 100 block of Pioneer Road that burned a converted barn to the ground Friday morning, Cal Fire officials said.

The fire was reported around 2:30 a.m. When firefighters arrived on scene, the structure was fully engulfed, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Ian Larkin said.

The barn, a two-story converted residence outfitted with a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom on the second floor, burned for at least 30 minutes.

The cause of the fire is being investigated but is not labeled as suspicious, Larkin said.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze around 4:10 a.m. and were on scene through the morning dousing hot spots.

Four engines and two water tenders from Cal Fire, Pajaro Valley Fire Protection District, Santa Cruz Fire Department and Aptos/La Selva Protection District were on scene.

Firefighters sifted through the barn and, around 10:30 a.m., found the body. Officials in the coroner's office are working to identify the body.

"The burns are very significant," Santa Cruz sheriff's deputy Ryan Kennedy said. "You can't identify him by picture or anything. They're going to use means other than a picture to find out."

Fire officials confirmed at least one person lived in the structure and have not been able to contact him.

County records indicate the barn was not zoned for someone to live there, said Tony Falcone, the chief building official for the county's planning department.


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The lower portion of the structure was used for storage and contained materials to fuel the flames, Larkin said.

Firefighters estimated the fire caused $200,000 in damage to the barn and $15,000 to a nearby home. Heat from the flames was so intense that it warped the vinyl siding of the home, Larkin said.