flames

The dramatic manhunt for a fugitive ex-LAPD cop who killed at least four people apparently ended when the rural California cabin he holed up in went up in flames, with ammunition exploding in the inferno and smoke billowing up into the mountain air.

Christopher Dorner, who hours earlier had killed one San Bernadino sheriff’s deputy and wounded another before barricading himself in the cabin, in the San Bernadino mountains, was believed to be inside. Dorner, who vowed not to be taken alive, had been surrounded inside the cabin since early Tuesday afternoon. It was not clear who set the fire in the Big Bear community where Dorner apparently has been hiding since sometime last week.

It was a stunning end to a saga that gripped the nation, and had the nation’s third-largest police department on tenterhooks for a week. Dorner, a former Navy man and highly trained marksman, had vowed revenge on the department he believed had wronged him – designating specific targets for death. As flames devoured the cabin, police stood by, confident that there was no escape for Dorner, and no way he could survive the blaze – assuming he had not already taken his own life.

San Bernardino Sheriff Spokesperson Cindy Bachman told reporters that they will not enter the structure until it is safe to do so.

Law enforcement sources said sometime within the last few days, Dorner broke into an cabin off Route 38, on the mountain resort area where days ago his truck was found burning. Two women were held there until Tuesday morning, when Dorner left in a white pickup believed to belong to one of the women, who he left bound inside. One managed to escape and call authorities around 12:50 p.m. local time.