A burned body found in the rubble of a small brush fire is being investigated as a homicide, San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Lt. Manny Del Toro said.
"There are many circumstances that lead us to believe this was a deliberate act," Del Toro told NBC 7.
Just after 8 a.m. Sunday, police and fire officials responded to several 911 calls for a small brush fire on the 2700 block of Morena Boulevard, right off Interstate 5 in San Diego's Bay Park community.
Police found a fully engulfed man who appeared to be unconscious with a lot of debris around him between I-5 and the train tracks, Toro said. The victim, an adult man, was pronounced dead at the scene when crews quelled the flames. The identity of the victim is not known.
Toro said it is unclear exactly what happened or if the man was already dead at the time of the burning or if he suffered any additional trauma.
Toro said the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office will determine a cause of death. It is too early to say what may have been the cause of death.
Callers claimed to have seen a man running south on the train tracks nearby, then across the freeway. Another witness said the person was carrying gas cans. Police say this person is a person of interest, but not a suspect.
Police do not have a clear description of this man, but are examining gas station surveillance as well as a transit surveillance camera which may have caught some activity.
SDPD officers will be on scene for up to six hours. Heavy police activity in the area may slow traffic. Morena Boulevard is shut down between Ingulf and Gesner Streets.
Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to call the San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Learn more about a person of interest wanted in connection with this crime and several others by clicking here.
No other information was immediately available.
Check back for updates on this breaking news story.