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Sheriff Says Deputies Didn’t Intentionally Burn Cabin With Ex-Cop Fugitive Inside

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Aerial view of the burning cabin where  fugitive suspect Christopher Dorner was engaged in a gun battle with authorities in Big Bear, Feb. 12, 2013. (CBS)

Aerial view of the burning cabin where fugitive suspect Christopher Dorner was engaged in a gun battle with authorities in Big Bear, Feb. 12, 2013. (CBS)

BIG BEAR LAKE (CBS SF) — The San Bernardino County Sheriff maintained Wednesday that his deputies did not intentionally burn down the mountain cabin where a wanted former LAPD police officer is thought to have died.

But Sheriff John McMahon said deputies did lob pyrotechnic tear gas into the cabin near Big Bear Lake, and it erupted in flames.

He indicated that the tactic was intended to drive fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner out, but it was not their intention to set the cabin ablaze.

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McMahon did not say directly that the tear gas started the blaze and he added that the cause of the fire remained unclear.

A coroner on Wednesday was examining charred remains found in the cabin ashes, which are thought to be those of Dorner.

Dorner is believed to have killed four people. The latest victim was a sheriff’s deputy during a gun battle at the cabin Tuesday that preceded the fire.

The deputy killed in that shootout was identified Wednesday as Jeremiah MacKay. The 35-year-old veteran officer was a married father of a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son.

McMahon said MacKay, who grew up in the area and followed his father into public service, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died of his injuries at a local hospital.

(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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