Officials looking into the 7,000-acre Chariot Fire have turned their attention to a federal agency Jeep that caught fire the same day the blaze began, and the possibility that this was the latest destruction started by illegal shooting.
The fire began midday July 6 about nine miles southeast of Julian, off Sunrise Highway, eventually burning 7,055-acres and 149 structures before its full containment nine days later. On Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the burn area amid heavy rain and thunderstorms.
But while CAL Fire tries to determine whether illegal shooting or a federal agency Jeep that caught fire after brush became entangled in its undercarriage started the massive fire, the agency is denying responsibility, according to U-T San Diego.
“The vehicle fire was unrelated to the Chariot fire,” Stephen Razo, external affairs director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management California Desert District, told the newspaper.
"Razo said the Jeep Cherokee caught fire while it was parked in the [Butterfield Ranch area] store’s parking lot, a few miles east of Cottonwood Canyon, where the Chariot fire was burning" and was contained to the parking lot, according to the report.
CAL Fire spokesman Mike Mohler told Patch he couldn't speak for investigators' take on the Jeep's relation to the fire, but that it was caused by humans and remains under investigation.