CERES -- A fire broke out at a Ceres home Friday morning as a U.S. Secret Service agent and officers with the Stanislaus County Probation Department arrived to search the home.
Two people living at the home, a man on probation and an older woman a neighbor identified as the man's mother, escaped the blaze.
The man on probation, Toby Michael Green, 54, was arrested Friday afternoon on suspicion of obstructing justice, delaying an officer and a probation violation, according to Jill Silva, chief probation officer for the Stanislaus County Probation Department.
Silva's department was there on a search along with the federal officer, who was conducting a separate investigation into counterfeiting currency, said Scott Gillingham, resident agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Sacramento.
Just after 10 a.m., a neighbor, Deborah Smith, said she saw officers enter a home at the northwest corner of Bystrum and River roads.
"There was a lot of screaming, a lot of banging and a lot of yelling back and forth," Smith said. "We were scared."
She said she heard Green threaten to start a fire because he didn't want to return to prison. Moments later, a fire erupted in the home, Smith said.
John Silveira, an investigator with the Modesto Regional Fire Authority, said that when officers arrived and determined Green was not coming out of the house, they went in and found him in a small room that was burning.
"We did not find any natural or accidental cause of the fire," Silveira said. "(Officers) said he wasn't trying to put it out. (Green) said he was trying to put it out. He said it was accidental."
Silveira said it was mostly paper that was burning, and it quickly spread through the tiny home.
Green's mother got out of the house first, followed by others, Silveira said.
Silva said the fire started as the officers "made contact with the house."
"We were on the perimeter as the fire was starting," she said. "My staff was trying to get him to come out while the fire was going ... to protect his life."
Silveira said the cause of the fire is "undetermined" and under investigation.
Silva said Green was on probation because of a pending property crime case being transferred from Merced County.