Firefighters battling blaze near I-5 find dead body

SAN DIEGO – Firefighters battling a rubbish fire under a freeway ramp next to Interstate 5 found a dead person, and witnesses told police of a man seen running away with a gas can.

Arson investigators, police officers and the California Highway Patrol were called just after 8 a.m. to under the elevated ramps at Interstate 5 at Clairemont Drive, near Mission Bay Park, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Lee Swanson.

It took firefighters from one engine only a few minutes to put out the 6-foot by 6-foot fire, before they made the discovery, Swanson said. They found the man’s body still on fire. Officers aren’t sure if he was already dead at the time or if he suffered any additional trauma.

“He is so badly burned, we can’t tell. We’re going to have to wait for an autopsy for any additional information,” said Lt. Manny Deltoro.

Witnesses told firefighters and police they saw a white man in his 40s to 50s running across the freeway lanes, from the railroad tracks area towards Mission Bay, carrying a gas can. He was described as wearing a brown coat, green Army hat and tan khaki pants.

“There’s nothing to indicate there was a homeless camp. No tents, etc. But there is some debris to show it is an area that would have been frequented by individuals but we can’t tell you if the man is homeless at this time,” said Lt. Deltoro.

The body was located under the northbound 5’s offramp bridge to Claremont Drive.

Interstate 5 and nearby Morena Boulevard were briefly closed by the CHP and San Diego police while the investigation continued.