Fairfax Fire Linked to Pot Growing Operation - Friends Mourn Resident

Friends remember Alex Ivanov as a generous, outgoing guy who loved the outdoors, had a kind heart and was always up for an adventure.

Alexander Ivanov, 58, was “one of the good guys."

That's the word from friends of the late Fairfax resident, who is being remembered this week as the man who lost his life in a Nov. 30 fire at his home on Meadow Way in Cascade Canyon.

The Marin County Coroner's Office has yet to identify the charred body found in the ashes and debris of a fire that tore through the cabin where he lived at the end of a long dirt driveway. One friend said, "Word travels fast. He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever met. We’ve been sitting around telling Alex stories."

But that friend, who knew Ivanov for about 20 years, and sponsored his Sausalito Yacht Club membership several years ago, declined to be named in this story after Marin County Fire officials revealed this week that the likely cause of the fire was the diversion of electricity for a marijuana-growing operation on the property.

Marin County Fire Marshal Scott Alber said Tuesday that the fire was likely caused by an illegal power tap that was disturbed by the wind and the rain from last week's storms. The electricity was being diverted from the home to a small shed containing a number of marijuana plants and six 1,000-watt grow lamps.

Alber emphasized that the fire remains under investigation until his department receives more info from the coroner's office from its own investigation.

"We can't eliminate some other potential sources of the ignition, such as some kerosene heaters in the house or a wood-burning stove," Alber said.

The body found in the small cabin at 40 Meadow Way was burned beyond recognition, according to Marin County Sheriff Department Lt. Keith Boyd, spokesman for the coroner's division.

“In cases relating to fire and burning, identification is a very trying and time consuming process. It’s going to take some time,” Boyd said. "It could be days, it could be a few months."

Though Ivanov has yet to be identified as the person killed in the fire, many who knew him were mourning his loss. His mother, Katherine Ivanov, who recently passed away, is listed as the owner of 40 Meadow Way in county property records.

Ivanov lived in the cabin that was destroyed in the blaze for about 30 years, friends said. Ivanov was starting a new chapter of his life fixing it up, they said.

Ivanov was a black and white photographer who had a small darkroom at the Industrial Center Building in Sausalito, and ran a printing business. When artist Cindy Miracle moved into the ICB almost 20 years ago, she had a small studio next to Ivanov's darkroom.

"He was my first friend in the building," she said. "He used to let me store all my extra stuff in his space when I did my open studio."

Ivanov was also a member of the Marin Rod and Gun Club and worked in the still lab at Industrial Light & Magic creating books and catalogs, particularly for Star Wars. He also had a great love for the outdoors, friends said. 

Friends said Ivanov loved visiting the hot springs on the south side of Stinson Beach at low tide, or taking his kayak out to Red Rock. And they had many great times going fishing together.

Another friend, William Gargan, said Ivanov and a group of people used to go target shooting together.

“Alex was a very nice guy,” Gargan said. “A very kind, generous, unassuming guy; quite gregarious and fun to be with. We will miss him dearly.”

Ivanov is believed to have a sister, Raisa Snow, who lives in Southern California. Her name was also on the property record for 40 Meadow. Katherine Ivanov was living with Snow in the months before she passed away. Alex Ivanov was married but separated from his wife for about 10 years, and had no children, friends said. He was always doing something interesting, and was always up for an adventure.

"I don't think I have ever known anyone who could spread more positive joyous energy," Miracle said. "He will be sorely missed. The world needs more people like him."

Gary Sorkin December 06, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I really, really liked Alex - on many levels. He was always cheerful and we shared a precious value together - honesty. I miss him and the finality of death reverberates in my mind the loss I have, as I empathize and morn with all the others that knew him. Now for the shabby journalism of the IJ reporter, the unprofessional comments of the fire marshal, and the jumping to conclusions which encompass this tragic event into some trite "pot growing" case is totally unacceptable in the court of honesty and integrity. Shame on you for writing such unsubstantiated trash about a great man! But this is not the time nor place to get into the minutiae of details from such nauseating people. My prayer is, "Alex, Sasha, you are gone too soon from this world and for that this place is now hollow of your warmth, laughter, friendship and love. You were so generous with your gift of companionship and revealed the qualities of your namesake - Alexander the Great." As you walk through the valley of the shadow of death fear no evil, as your love on earth has laid for you a path of eternal memories of love of those you left behind. Nastarovia moi druuk." I share your loss, Marion. May peace be with you, and with Alex always Gary Sorkin (garysorkin@gmail.com)
tony masi December 07, 2012 at 02:56 AM
I also agree that the headline of this article is more befitting of hurtful backyard gossip and is (hopefully inadvertently) very inappropriate for a local news publication servicing a community where people are generally more concerned about the well-being of their fellow neighbors rather than reading about each others' private habits exposed and/or exaggerated for sensationalism. Speculation regarding faulty wiring for grow lamps is a part of the story of this sad and unfortunate accident, but it only consists of three redundant lines in this article. I mourn the fact that this headline will somehow define the demise of a man who was obviously more than just a marijuana grower. I did not know Alex, but I recall seeing his friendly face about town. And as more people comment on their affection for Alex and their feelings of loss over his passing, I find myself feeling more and more anger over how this article's leading headline so shamefully becomes Alex's last public epitaph. PS. Ricardo, my brain isn't what it used to be. Is the reference at the bottom of your previous comment from the Tubes, Frank Zappa, or both? It's pretty off the wall, just the same, even for me.
Julie Beach December 07, 2012 at 04:59 AM
I didn't know the man but when I read the story - I thought the reporting was completely unprofessional for 3 reasons: 1. A man is killed in a hellacious home accident-and then reporters cut straightaway to the small marijuana grow and the condition of the poor man's body when it was found. So not appropriate. 2. Blame the fire on the grow before fire offials issue their report-that's just making things up. The IJ owners and other officials must have been trained in the National Enquirer School of Jornalism. The only important thing is that the man lost his life in some kind of accident in his own home-how horrible ! Drawing attention to the small marijuanna grow and conjecture about how the fire started not to mention referencing the condition of the man's body when it was found --it's all part of the National Enquirer School of Journalism
Rico December 08, 2012 at 05:03 AM
If one reads the article, the small shed was totally intact that had the few pot plants, it was the cabin that burnt to the ground. So, the micro grow had nothing at all to do with this horrible story. I am still in shock about this, I do wonder how the authors of this article feel now, they must feel terrible about what they did, and if they have any kind of integrity or conscious, they should recant their story and apologize. The really sad thing is also, once the official reports are concluded, the media will never publicise them.
Bill McGee December 09, 2012 at 08:32 AM
If one ignores the main headline, the story reads about a tragic accident that happened to a well-loved man who was known in the community as a "generous, outgoing guy who loved the outdoors..." This Patch story had much more depth than the IJ, but both published quotes from the Fire Marshall in referencing the marijuana and the cause of the fire. I find no fault with either news story because the reporter directly quoted the Fire Marshall; however the headline writers erred when they wrote the "Fire Linked to Pot Growing Operation". According to the reporter, no positive link had been established. The IJ article also included the fact that the cause was under investigation but the IJ headline was also extremely misleading. It is my understanding that headlines are written by someone other than the reporter and the purpose is to attract the reader to the story. It is disturbing that so many headlines are inconsistent with the facts of the story filed. In this case the error was hurtful to the victim and his loved ones and friends. The reader should always try to set aside the headline and let the story stand on its own. This is difficult though when the headline is so prejudiced as was the case in both the IJ and the Patch.


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