Homeless Man Attempting To Heat Coffee With Blow Torch Ignites Brush Fire In Lake Elsinore

The fire was reported shortly before 3 p.m.

UPDATED: A small brush that burned an eighth of an acre Friday in Lake Elsinore was accidentally started by a transient attempting to heat coffee with a propane blow torch, a fire engineer said.

The fire was reported at 2:54 p.m. in the 31600 block of Auto Center Drive in a riverbed homeless encampment across the street from the Travel Inn motel.

Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department engineer Don Camp said the man was attempting to use the torch as a heating device when it started leaking fuel and ignited the blaze in heavy brush.

The man, whose identity has not been released, sustained minor burns but refused treatment, Camp said. He was being detained for questioning by Cal Fire Prevention investigators.

Camp warned that fire conditions are very dangerous this year.

"[The fire] was in heavy fuel so it was putting up some pretty good flames and thick black smoke. We haven't had much rain. It didn't take much ... to get the fire going," he explained.

"California has had a record dry winter, about the fourth driest in state history," he added, explaining that the current vegetation moisture levels are what fire officials normally see toward the end of summer.

Camp said three engines and 10 firefighters were called to Friday's incident, and there were no other injuries reported.

Auto Center Drive was temporarily closed in both directions.

The fire was contained at 3:09 p.m., Camp said. --Daniel Lane contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here for a fire reported later Friday afternoon near the Elsinore Naval and Military School.

Ken Mayes May 12, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Reverend Smith Republicans, come on. It was a Democrat by the name of Lyndon Baines Johnson who eliminated the Bracero Program which supplied many unskilled temporary workers to do jobs nobody wanted to do but needed to be done. It was also a Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt that started this program to replace workers he sent to war. Not saying its all the Democrats fault Republicans are just as guilty. At the end of the day there will always be jobs to be filled by people willing to work for minimum or less than minimum wage as a complementary workforce, not a replacement workforce and the majority of these will be immigrants be they legal or illegal. This situation is not exclusive to the United States.
Reverend Smith May 13, 2013 at 12:20 AM
So you credit LBJ for eliminating one program that encouraged illegal immigration and catered to big agribusiness. OK. And considering the free world's very survival was at steak, you'll forgive FDR for starting what is essentially what congress is eventually going to pass any day now - immigration reform and worker visa programs. And those admitted under those programs were screened, not whoever could outrun la migre. Oh, and don't forget the Republican who started it all - Reagan. He swung open the border gates during the 80's to reward his corporate and agribusiness backers from the years of running for office in California before running for president. There's this article in the Washington Post "Obama is deporting immigrants faster than Bush. Republicans don’t think that’s enough." that sums it up. Republicans complain every time a Democrat takes office that they're not enforcing immigration laws. Then a Republican office takes office and fails entirely to enforce immigration laws, defunds border control measures, and the complainers vanish into thin air. Then, when a Democrat takes office, the complainers of the president's failure to enforce border control suddenly rematerialize. This, despite the fact the new Democrat president enforces border protection and deportations 100 times over what the previous.Republican administration did. Let me know when you get it sorter out sybil.
Reverend Smith May 13, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Here's that article: "Obama is deporting immigrants faster than Bush. Republicans don’t think that’s enough." http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/27/obama-is-deporting-more-immigrants-than-bush-republicans-dont-think-thats-enough/
That one guy May 14, 2013 at 02:43 AM
"can't we all get along...?" Besides it wasn't coffee he was heating up, it was a crack pipe pr his medical marijuana
Ken Mayes May 14, 2013 at 02:55 PM
The 1986 Immigration Reform Bill that you blame on Reagan was a bipartisan bill aka the Simpson (R)-Mazzoli (D) Act passed by a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats, a Senate controlled by Republicans. Both parties are one in the same when it comes to passing stupid legislation.


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