Haunting Investigation in Madera County, California

Someone left the lights on for Mickey Burrow and his team of ghost hunters.

Or maybe something.

As the group of paranormal hobbyists prepared to spend Saturday night in an old, vacant fire station in the Madera County foothills, Burrow got a surprise right off the bat.

He discovered the light in the basement glowing. But Cal Fire Capt. Craig Waag -- who stopped by to make sure everything was OK -- insisted that he had turned off the light after an inspection Friday. And he had locked the door.

It was an eerie start to an overnight operation to prove scientifically whether there's any evidence of the fire station's reputed inhabitant -- a ghost known to locals as Homer.

For decades, stories have been traded about a young couple with the last name of Homer who lived on the site in the 1930s. According to Raymond folklore, the husband flew into a rage after learning his 17-year-old wife had a gentleman visitor. He stabbed her to death, then used barbed wire to hang himself from a large oak tree that still stands near the station's front gate.

Burrow, a Fresno Police Department crime-scene investigator, found old barbed wire embedded in the tree Saturday afternoon.

"I've heard stories about this place for years," Burrow said. "I've been interested in the paranormal all my life."

Burrow and seven other hobbyists who operate under the name Pacific Haunting Investigations brought along plenty of equipment: an electromagnetic field detector, motion sensors, a camcorder with night vision -- and flashlights for everyone.

"We've got our sleeping bags ready," said Sarah Reichman, 29, of Fresno, one of Burrow's team. "Probably won't get much sleep, though."

The isolated fire station along Road 600 is out of cell phone range, and the team didn't bring along radios.

Before night fell, Burrow ran a few tests with his electromagnetic field detector.

In the basement, it "flatlined," Burrow said. That means no ghost -- at the moment.

But it was a different story upstairs in a barracks.

The meter began spiking -- click, click -- just like a human heartbeat. And there was a chill in the air. Burrow's explanation: a possible ghost.

"What it's doing is pulling energy out of the air to try and manifest itself," he said.

Burrow's group received permission from the Madera County Board of Supervisors in February to conduct the investigation. The county owns the old fire station.

Supervisor Tom Wheeler of North Fork put on a white sheet just before he and fellow board members voted unanimously to give the OK.

The group is not being paid to spend the night. In fact, supervisors asked Burrow to sign an agreement not to sue the county for any "injury, property damage or death."

Burrow said he was ready for the dark hours ahead.

"I've seen a lot of stuff. I've seen a lot of death," Burrow said. "It would take quite a bit to shock me."

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