Bodies found in burning house assumed to be Mr. and Mrs. Hong, nursery owners; authorities seeking relatives

UPDATE (Mon., July 21) – Neighbors and other affiliates are reporting that it was Mr. and Mrs. Hong who perished in the house fire Fri., July 18. The couple, in their mid-to-late 70s, apparently did not have any children and authorities are trying to locate relatives. The Medical Examiner has not officially released the names of the deceased at this time pending notification to kin.

RAINBOW – The bodies of two people were found inside a home for sale that caught fire early Friday, July 18 in Rainbow near the San Diego-Riverside county line.

The fire at 1966 Rice Canyon Road was reported around 12:30 a.m., and fire crews had it knocked down in about 30 to 40 minutes, according to North County Fire Protection District spokesman John Buchanan. The residence on the 1.6-acre property contained several greenhouses and also served as a business called Hong’s Flower Nursery, he said.

Firefighters conducting a preliminary search found one of the bodies, and the other was found in the same room during a subsequent sweep of the burned home, Buchanan said.

Buchanan said the county Medical Examiner’s Office would determine the age and gender of the two people found dead, along with the causes of death.

It was unclear if the two deaths were accidental, and sheriff’s homicide detectives were dispatched to investigate, sheriff’s Lt. Herb Taft.

The Sheriff’s Bomb-Arson Unit was working to determine the cause of the fire, as was standard protocol in fires involving injury or death, Buchanan said.

Buchanan said the home’s roof and a wall were unstable following the fire and it might end up being deemed a total loss.


Two bodies found in suspicious house fire on Rice Canyon Road in Rainbow

Firefighters found two bodies after responding to and fighting a house fire in Rainbow in the early morning hours (today, Fri., July 18).

According to North County Fire public information officer John Buchanan, firefighters with the agency received a call about 12:33 a.m. this morning regarding a house fire in the 1900 block of Rice Canyon Road in Rainbow.

“When our guys got there, the house was pretty involved with fire,” said Buchanan. “The firefighters began to knock down the fire and found one body, then shortly after, found a second one.”

Buchanan said the house was approximately 1,800 square feet.

He went on to explain that when someone is found injured or dead in a structure, protocol is to call the Sheriff’s Dept. Bomb/Arson unit in to assist with the investigation.

“At this point, now the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit has been called in,” said Buchanan.

The identities of the victims have not yet been released by authorities.

According to Homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio, the cause and manner of death, as well as the identity of the victims, will be determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Homicide Detail at (858) 974-2321/after hours at (858) 565-5200. You can remain anonymous and be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

14 Responses to "Bodies found in burning house assumed to be Mr. and Mrs. Hong, nursery owners; authorities seeking relatives"

  1. Person   July 19, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Why is the village news the only media outlet not saying it’s the Hongs ( husband and wife) who died in the fire.

    VILLAGE NEWS RESPONDS: The Village News will report the identities of the victims when the Medical Examiner officially releases their names, ages, and cause of death (if determined initially). We follow official protocol. Thanks — D. Ramsey

  2. Sherry   July 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    This is terrible news regardless of who the two people were, but especially so if it is the Hongs. Very sad. I used to buy plants from their nursery when I lived in Fallbrook. Condolences to the family.

  3. Reality Checker   July 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I get chills up my spine and have pseudo flashbacks just thinking about this. I barely survived a house fire back in 2001, got out just in the knick of time. Had just enough time to throw on a pair of shorts, grab the car keys that were on the counter and a file cabinet drawer of important papers and run outside. Moved two cars away from the house, turned around to see flames shooting out of the roof and the sound of windows popping. Ten minutes later the house was fully engulfed. Total loss. Just happened to be three o’clock the morning of my first wife’s funeral. Had to go to her funeral at 9:30 wearing a pair of ill fitting borrowed jeans and tee shirt. Fire spreads sooo fast. Three minutes is all the time it takes to get from smoldering sofa cushions to a fully engulfed livingroom. Just hope you have to get up to pee and smell it like I did, before it takes your life.

  4. TammyKV   July 22, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I Am totally Devastated to hear this News about these 2 Wonderful people, The Hongs.
    My heart is broken. This was my very favorite Nursery to go to for Plants. Just loved when
    Mr. Hong would come to greet me. A True Plant Lover myself, I had great admiration of Mr. and Mrs. Hong and always thought I would Love to own that perfect little Nursery some day. He
    even took me on A tour of the greenhouses, which the entire place was always meticulously
    maintained, And Beautiful. To me they lived in Paradise, and He especially, knew me well.

    So passionate about their business, and Horticulture.

    God Bless This Wonderful Couple. They will forever be missed greatly. May they Rest in Peace.

  5. Gary   July 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

    From what I understand, Fallbrook is a total hick town. It used to be the west coast headquarters for KKK. The police is looking this as an arson perhaps motivated by racism. I hope they catch the perpetrators. Meanwhile…it I’d sad that a place like this still exists.

  6. Seriously??   July 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Obviously Gary knows absolutely nothing about Fallbrook. First of all, we are not a "hick" town, we are known as the "avocado capitol of the world" although we have lost quite a few of our groves to housing tracts. We have an artsy downtown area, and quite a few upscale mansions on the south end of town (Rolling Hills, Bonsall, etc.)

    This tragic fire took place in the community of Rainbow which is over the 15 freeway, east of town. While it is true that Tom Metzger once lived here, I don’t know anyone who liked him or even knew him very well, he was an embarrassment to this community for the most part, and it certainly was not the west coast location of the KKK. Why would the arson, if it is arson, be racially motivated? The Hongs have lived in the community for over 20 years!!

    How about learning about a place before shooting off the lip. It is sad that people like Gary still exist.

  7. Really   July 24, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Gary, from what you understand? Just keep thinking that Fallbrook is a "hick town" and keep your sorry a$$ away from here. You watch to much CNN.

  8. Me   July 24, 2014 at 7:54 am

    How about an update on the investigation Village News?

  9. Guest   July 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Where is a follow up on this story? The investigators were onsite yesterday and I would like to know their conclusion. This was such a tragic event.

    VN – The sheriff’s dept and coroner’s office have not released any their findings yet.

  10. Rainbow Heights Resident   July 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    We are all anxiously waiting for word on the cause of the death of this
    very dear, kind couple. They have always been hard-working and
    very proud of their business. They have never had time off – always
    intent on keeping their place very clean. An asset to their neighbors
    and to Rainbow. We miss them every day and continue to always
    look in their direction as we make that turn at the bottom of Rainbow
    Heights Road. None of us can rest until we know why this happened
    to them, of all people! They were "angels" before and now will always
    continue to be.

  11. Brent Kittle   July 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    We’ve done business with the
    Hongs for over 20…
    This accident is very sad…
    especially when they were just
    going to retire..
    Rest in Peace

    Brent Kittle
    Plant Depot

  12. Rainbow resident   August 15, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    We are still hoping to have an update to what happened to the Hong’s. Was it foul play??

  13. Concerned Rainbow Resident   September 5, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    I hope we get some updates as to what the tragic cause was. Concerned for our safety.

  14. Brent Kittle   September 21, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Has anyone heard about the cause of this fire?
    Or who we contact to find out?

    VILLAGE NEWS COMMENTS: The Village News regularly checks in with the Sheriff’s Homicide Division on this case and we are repeatedly told there is no new information. –D. Ramsey


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