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SAN DIEGO — A misunderstanding forced South Bay firefighters to hang back as an SUV was consumed in flames Wednesday.

Witnesses first called about a burning SUV near Valley Ridge Street and Procter Valley Road in Chula Vista around 11:30 a.m. Callers said a man appeared to be pouring gasoline on a car and lighting it on fire, Chula Vista Fire Department Batt. Chief David Albright said.

Because it “sounded like initially it might have been a crime,” firefighters were ordered to keep their distance until police could investigate. But when officials were able to speak with the driver, they realized the blaze was caused by a mechanical issue and the driver had simply been pouring water on the flames.

Firefighters moved in and extinguished the fire, but the SUV was a total loss.