Crime - Sacto 911

Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: Any details on man found on fire in Sacramento post office in mid-1990s?

Q: I remember hearing about a case of spontaneous human combustion that happened in the mid-1990s inside of the Fort Sutter Post Office in Sacramento. Could you elaborate on the event?

Curious, Sacramento

A: You may be thinking of the case of a man who was found on fire in March 1995 on the floor of the post office at 2121 Broadway in Sacramento.

According to stories in The Sacramento Bee, he was found on a Sunday morning in the public area in front of a bank of postal boxes by a man and woman who had come to the post office to pick up their mail. The man went for help while the woman tried to douse the fire with a dampened T-shirt.

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the victim through fingerprints as Robert Podtburg, 30. The fire burned the upper portion of his body, and the Coroner’s Office said he died from burns to the throat area.

Detectives said they believed the fire that killed Podtburg was accidental, possibly the result of a burning cigarette or an attempt to light one. Podtburg had no known address and investigators said they believed he was homeless.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.