Investigation underway into more than a dozen fires reported along SR-67, near Lakeside

LAKESIDE,Calif. - Sheriff's investigators were working Monday to determine the cause of more than a dozen brush fires that broke out along state Route 67 in and near Lakeside this weekend, a detective said.

The Lakeside Fire Department responded to 13 separate fires between 4 and 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday on either side of the highway from Winter Gardens Boulevard to state Route 52, sheriff's Detective Portillo of the Bomb Arson Unit said.

Crews kept one of the fires on Sunday from burning into thickets in the San Diego river bottom adjacent to the Lakeside River Park Conservancy, and another fire was contained near the entrance to the Santee Drive-In, according to the Lakeside Fire Department.

Portillo said sheriff's officials had not ruled out that the fires could have started accidentally, such as the result of a vehicle's faulty catalytic converter.

Extremely hot metal and ceramic pieces can be thrown off vehicles, which could lead to multiple fires in dry brush, according to the detective.

Drivers with a malfunctioning catalytic converter often hear a rattling noise and may experience decreased power, Portillo said.

Sheriff's officials asked anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area, especially around the times the fires started, to call them at (858) 565- 5200, or call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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