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Modesto standoff over eviction leaves 2 dead (VIDEO)

Sheriff's deputy, civilian killed in Calif. standoff before raging fire broke out at apartment.

Modesto standoff 2012 04 13Enlarge
Officers surround the Modesto, Calif., apartment where a sheriff's deputy and another man were shot and killed April 12, 2012, while trying to serve an eviction notice. (Screengrab)

A sheriff's deputy and a civilian were shot to death as authorities tried to serve an eviction notice at a California apartment complex, leading to a standoff disrupted by a raging fire early Friday.

Modesto authorities didn't know what sparked the blaze, which was put out by firefighters shortly before 2 a.m. PDT, police officer Chris Adams told The Associated Press.

"The fire is out," he told the AP. "At this point we're just waiting for it to be safe enough for us to go inside."

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson told the Modesto Bee the gunman was presumed dead.

Sheriff's deputy Robert Paris, a 16-year veteran of the department, and another man were shot and killed while trying to serve an eviction notice at the Whispering Woods apartment complex Thursday morning, Los Angeles TV station KABC reported.

Neighbors Yemen Zokari and Steven Gasterlum told the Modesto Bee they heard the gunshots and saw two men lying on the ground, one on his stomach and another on his back closer to the door of the house from where the shots came.

Christianson said he did not believe his deputies returned fire, the AP reported.

The shooting led to a 12-hour standoff. Neighboring homes were evacuated, and police fired flash grenades and tear gas in the area where the shooting occurred at one point, according to the Modesto Bee.

A distraught Christianson told the AP that Paris paid the ultimate price while protecting the community.

"One of my valued members of my team is dead," he told reporters. "I am overwhelmingly frustrated that we don't have the sufficient resources to protect the community."