Authorities reached out to the public Wednesday for help in identifying a man who sparked a blaze that caused an estimated $2 million worth of damage in a commercial district in Vista.
The arson fire erupted in an alley behind a market in the 400 block of North Santa Fe Avenue shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 17 and quickly spread to nearby businesses, including an auto shop, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
The blaze forced evacuations of several apartments above a grocery store but caused no reported injuries.
Firefighters took about three hours to get the bulk of the fire out but due to the items found inside the auto shop, it took some time to extinguish the fire.
"Everything from the tires to the vehicles they can keep burning for a long time. So it requires a lot of time and water," Vista FD Chief Ned Vander Pol said.
The man who set the fire was described as heavyset and in his 20s to mid-30s with short, dark hair.
Anyone who might be able to help detectives track down the perpetrator was asked to call San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or contact the agency online at sdcrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.