SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) – A Hotshot firefighter who disappeared over a week ago, after having battled the El Dorado Fire, may have been picked up by someone driving a Subaru.
Officials confirmed Monday that there is still no sign of 35-year-old Carlos Alexander Baltazar.
However, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s investigators have learned that Baltazar may have been picked up near his vehicle by someone driving a Subaru.
Baltazar’s car was found Sept. 20 in a remote area northeast of Big Bear, off Highway 18 at Delta Way, less than an hour after his family said he’d left their house in San Bernardino.
However, he himself was not reported missing until Sept. 24. SBSD Search and Rescue volunteers, deputies, sheriff’s helicopters and K9 units spent Sunday scouring the area around where Baltazar’s car was found.
“The hood was still warm,” his sister Veronica told CBSLA Monday. “His door was open.”
The driver who found his car contacted Veronica over the weekend and told her it had crashed into a railing in the middle of the road. On his drivers’ seat sat his ID, a money clip with $200 and a knife.
His backpack was found about 75 yards from his car, the sheriff’s department said.
Initially, the sheriff’s department suspected that Baltazar may have wandered into the woods near his car. However, after several days of searching the area with bloodhounds and heat detection, and based on new information about a Subaru in the area, it may be possible that Baltazar left the scene.
“It just makes no sense,” Veronica said. “All his stuff was left behind. Why would he get into a car? It makes no sense.”
So far, the sheriff’s department said it does not suspect any foul play.
Baltazar was off-duty when he disappeared and not in the area of the El Dorado Fire, the sheriff’s department disclosed.
Baltazar was part of a U.S. Forest Service Interagency Hotshot Crew. His family says he was upset over the death of his boss, Charles Edward Morton, who died while battling the El Dorado Fire.
Morton, a 14-year USFS veteran, died on Sept. 17 while fighting the El Dorado Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest. His funeral was held Friday.
The El Dorado Fire, sparked by pyrotechnics, broke out in Yucaipa on Sept. 5. It has burned 22,680 acres and is 92% contained as of Monday. The fire destroyed several homes.
Baltazar is described as Hispanic, 5-foot-9, weighing 175 pounds, bald with brown eyes.
Anyone who was in the area of Highway 18 and Delta Avenue on Sept. 20 should contact the sheriff’s department at 909-866-0100 or 909- 866-7581.