Amateur video may provide leads for investigators - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Amateur video may provide leads for investigators

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A specially formed arson task force is looking closely at the possible causes of the fires that spread across the county last week.

So far, we only know the cause of the Bernardo Fire, which was started by a construction crew using a backhoe.

More than a dozen agencies, including San Diego Fire-Rescue, the Sheriff’s Department, Cal Fire and the US Forestry Service are pooling their resources and information to try to help each other in determining the causes of the wildfires that broke out across San Diego County last week.

One potentially invaluable tool is the smart phone, used to capture some of fires on video.

"Went out on my porch, looked up on the mountain and saw it was on fire. So I started taking video,” said San Marcos resident Erin O'Toole.

O'toole says that she captured some of the first moments of the Cocos Fire last Wednesday from her back porch...

"All of a sudden it encompassed the entire mountain and I was like, gotta go now,” continued O’Toole.

A fire that ultimately destroyed dozens of homes.

"I don't know how or why it happened. It was just a fire on my mountain,” O’Toole said.

Those are questions that fire investigators are now tackling as part of special joint arson task force that met Tuesday.

"We've got great investigators working on leads. Still don't know at this point,” said Chet Bertell with the Joint Arson Task Force.

As part of the ongoing investigation, video and still photos captured of the fires, such as a time lapse video taken of the Cocos Fire and a video taken of the Poinsettia Fire, are playing a part in trying to uncover leads.

Tuesday, May 13, Vista resident Adam Jordan took video of what he says captures the first moments of the Poinsettia fire in Carlsbad taken from a hillside overlooking the La Costa Canyon Golf Course – it’s video he's turned over to investigators.

Although investigators caution that no single picture or video - on its own - can determine a cause, they say:

"We can only look at the objective evidence and go from there,” said Bertell.

Anyone with possible information on any of these wildfires is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

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