Construction work, specifically flames sparked at an excavation site, was the cause of San Diego’s Bernardo Fire earlier this week, the San Diego City Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) confirmed Friday.
The Bernardo Fire started Tuesday off Nighthawk Lane, southwest of Rancho Bernardo. The fast-spreading fire scorched 1,548 acres in San Diego’s North County and forced thousands of evacuations. Just before 7 p.m. Saturday, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department announced that the fire was 100 percent contained.
According to investigators, the fire occurred at a construction site that’s in the early stage of development. A survey crew was testing the soil by digging a series of small trenches. Those trenches were dug by a backhoe operator.
After digging and covering one of the trenches, investigators said the crew started moving onto the next excavation location. As they walked away, they noticed smoke and flames stemming from the excavated trench.
The backhoe operator and construction crew attempted to extinguish the flames, to no avail.
Investigators said the blaze spread rapidly throughout the dry brush at the site. The construction crew was forced to flee to safety.
Based on witness statements and evidence, MAST investigators determined the cause of the Bernardo Fire was accidental.
Residents in the path of the fire praised the efforts of firefighters in controlling the Bernardo Fire, which winded its way through canyons and burned just feet from backyards and buildings.
This blaze was the first in a long line of fires that ripped through San Diego County this week, primarily in the North County.