PALMDALE (CBSLA.com) — Officials believed a series of about seven small spot fires burning along the 14 Freeway in Palmdale and Lancaster might be the work of an arsonist.
Moreover, witnesses claimed to see a motorist tossing charcoal briquettes into the dry brush to start the fires.
The first fire was reported shortly after 12:30 a.m. on the southbound side of the freeway near Avenue N, authorities said. After that, about 10 to 15 fires were reported from Avenue K to Avenue S, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Ed Pickett.
Witnesses reported that a vehicle was intentionally starting the fire using charcoal briquettes, California Highway Patrol reported.
The largest of the fires burned about two acres, Pickett said. More than 70 firefighters were sent to battle the flames.
County firefighters were able to put out all the fires by 2:30 a.m.
Investigators spent the day following up clues about a possible arsonist.
By Saturday evening, KCAL 9’s Tina Patel reports arson was definitively ruled out. Authorities said the fires were more likely touched off by a vehicle needing road repair.
Several witnesses called 911 and reported seeing a truck driving through the area just before the fires were reported.
One driver said it looked like something might have been thrown from the vehicle.
“As soon as it hit the floor, it pretty much popped and it sent like electric feed out. That pretty much started the fire from there,” said the witness.
Arson investigators found nothing suspicious and no charcoal briquettes. They believe a mechanical issue likely sparked the fires.
“I think they better get it fixed,” Cliff Krahenbill.
Patel found drivers who remain skeptical that all those fires could rage from one vehicle but did acknowledge that the dry brush and winds could have played a factor.
Sheriff’s Deputies want to remind drivers to keep up on the maintenance of their vehicles.
“In this time of year where there is a lot of heat, you should actually check the engine all the time, check the water, check everything about the car, make sure it is operating correctly before you go anywhere,” said driver Garang Deng.