Authorities say a jogger in the area of Michelson Drive and Harvard Avenue noticed a burned vehicle along the San Diego Creek at about 9:20 a.m. When he approached the vehicle, he saw that there was a body inside.
"This area is a wildlife sanctuary, it's actually called the Rancho San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary," said Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen. "The roadway where the vehicle left the roadway into the creek bed is access to a water district and also a bird club."
Detectives have yet to disclose the age and gender of the body and it was not clear if the individual was dead before the car caught fire.
"Both the vehicle and the person inside are badly burned, unrecognizable at this point," said Engen. "At this time we are handling it as a death investigation. There is no indication that there was a collision but we have not moved the vehicle or the person who's inside yet, and that investigation is ongoing."
Police say they are checking with surrounding police agencies to see if the body could be possibly linked to a missing person case. They do not believe the torched car or body has been in the creek long. They are looking to talk to anyone who might have seen anything suspicious in the area last night or Wednesday morning.
"We believe the vehicle probably entered the creek bed some time very last night or in the early morning hours today," said Engen. "Detectives right now are working throughout the area, including looking for video that may help us to narrow that time frame, but we had no reports overnight or this morning of any smoke or flames seen."
The Orange County Coroner's Office will determine the person's cause of death.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Irvine Police Department at (949) 724-7000.