Body Found In Aftermath of Carlsbad's Poinsettia Fire; Blaze 85 Percent Contained
Poinsettia Fire Tip Line
If you have any information about the origin of the fire or suspicious activity or persons who may be involved with the starting of the fires, please call Carlsbad Police at 760-602-7599 or email PoinsettiaFire@carlsbadca.gov.
The first fatality connected to this week's widespread and destructive San Diego County wildfires came to light Thursday afternoon, when firefighters found a badly burned body while checking for hot spots in an area scorched by the 400-acre Poinsettia fire, authorities said.
Firefighters discovered the body in the area of Ambrosia Lane and Calliandra Road in Carlsbad, a location known to be used as an encampment by transients, city officials said. The victim's identity is not yet known.
As officials began Thursday to assess the damage from a fire that erupted the day before in Carlsbad, the numbers were not good: 18 apartments were destroyed and eight single-family homes were destroyed or severely damaged; an 18-unit apartment building incurred considerable damage; and two businesses were totaled.
The damage estimate so far has reached $22.5 million from the Poinsettia fire, which was 85 percent contained as of late Thursday night, Carlsbad officials said. The fire is now considered a "regional event," city officials said.
Although thousands were ordered to evacuate their homes Wednesday after the fire started, they were all allowed to return to their residences Wednesday.
At a Thursday morning news conference, Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall thanked first responders, saying "although there was major structural damage done here in Carlsbad, we literally saved hundreds of homes.''
All major roadways in the city also were open by Thursday night, though limited access was being given on Ambrosia Lane where public safety crews were still working. Law enforcement personnel also was setting up checkpoints to monitor access to areas that had been evacuated.
The fire broke out around 10:35 a.m. Wednesday near Poinsettia Lane and Alicante Road, just east of El Camino Real. Winds pushed the flames west toward neighborhoods and some high-tech businesses.
Fire officials said the spread of the blaze had been stopped by around 3 p.m. Wednesday, but more than 300 firefighters were on the scene Thursday morning to continue battling the fire. By the evening, many were being allowed to leave the city.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the Poinsettia fire and other blazes that erupted across northern San Diego County this week. County Supervisor Bill Horn, whose district includes much of North County, speculated Wednesday evening that arson could be behind the spate of fires.
"I question whether or not six fires haven't been set by somebody," Horn said. "That's just my thought. But I've never seen anything like this in 20 years."
Carlsbad Fire Chief Michael Davis said arson is not being ruled out.
"Each fire will be treated as a crime scene until it's proven to be accidental," Davis said.
For more information about city services, including what will be open or closed on Friday, go to Carlsbad's website.
City News Service contributed to this report.