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Body found at scene of Castaic brushfire

October 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters found a body after putting out a small blaze near the 5 Interstate north of Castaic near Templin Highway Monday morning.Authorities said firefighters extinguished a 1-acre brush fire in a ravine approximately a mile from the Interstate 5 Freeway. A passerby saw the flames.

Officials believe the fire was sparked around 5 a.m., and emergency crews were called in.

As the firefighters were mopping up hot spots, they found a body. The body was too charred to immediately determine if it was a man or a woman. Investigators combed the surrounding brushy area to search for evidence.

Arson investigators worked alongside homicide detectives to determine a cause of death.

Officials said they are not clear on whether the fire had anything to do with the person's death. Detectives said they will need the coroner's help to identify the body.

Was the fire possibly set to burn the body and cover up a possible murder?

"It's difficult to say right now. That's why we do have arson investigators on scene to determine exactly the origin of the fire, where it started, if there was an accelerant used, so we're working in collaboration with sheriff's arson investigators and, obviously, L.A. County Fire, National Forest and Cal-FIRE," said L.A. County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman.

"During the course of the autopsy, we'll be able to hopefully be able to determine the cause of death, and then of course whether the fire was set to obliterate evidence and such," said Coleman.

"The coroner's office will look for dental records, obviously they'll be able to do a physical examination of the body and pretty much quickly determine whether it's a male or a female, then we'll try to identify the fingerprints if they're available, DNA in the long run, so there's a myriad of possibilities to identify the body," said Coleman.

If you have any information about this case, you're urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at (323) 890-5500.


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