POTRERO, Calif. -- Neighbors worried about the welfare of a young couple who went missing 10 days ago, as a fast-moving wildfire spread near their back-country home in the far southern reaches of San Diego County, found two bodies believed to be theirs Wednesday morning.
The grim discovery in the 7,609-acre burn zone of the Border Fire near Potrero was reported shortly before 8:30 a.m., according to county officials.
“Two community members up on that hill, behind a large boulder, found what appears to be the remains of two people,” said San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Jan Caldwell.
People who live near the Bell Valley-area home of the missing couple -- identified as "Barefoot Jim" Keefe and his wife Kylie, whose last name is unknown -- set out Wednesday morning to search for them, according to a Facebook page dedicated to the effort.
Mourning neighbors speculated on the website that the two likely perished while trying to round up their dogs as the blaze spread.
Authorities were seen carrying two bodies down a hillside Wednesday.
Neighbors became concerned when they realized Keefe’s green van had not been moved since the fire. Many expressed anger that the Sheriff’s department did not do enough to search for the couple even after they were notified Sunday that the couple was missing.
“I understand there’s anger, but sometimes it’s misplaced,” said Caldwell. "And the people that have been out there, the firefighters, the deputies, Cal Fire, bomb arson have done everything that they possibly can,” said Caldwell.
"We got to all look out for each other, so I mean they can’t blame nobody,” one resident who wished to remain anonymous told FOX 5.
He believes the couple chose not evacuate, and may have set off on foot or tried to take shelter in the caves on or near their property.
“I mean they’ve gone all over this place and say you have to leave. It’s up to them to leave or not. It is a risk you take,” he said.
Today, with the discovery of the bodies, he says he believes his worst fears may be realized.
“They’re good people, I mean everybody knew them here in Potrero. They’re just good people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services is still seeking the owner of a dog found with burned paws during the Border Fire. Neighbors say the dog was one of many that belonged to the couple.
The Border Fire erupted for unknown reasons near state Routes 94 and 188 on the morning of June 19 and went on to destroy five homes and about a dozen outbuildings over the next several days.
As of Wednesday morning, crews were still working to finish containing the smoldering footprint of the blaze, having gotten the burn zone about 95 percent surrounded, according to Cal Fire.