Agencies refuse to name the company responsible for Bernardo Fire

Fire officials cite ongoing investigation

SAN DIEGO - Fire investigators told Team 10 they know the company responsible for the Bernardo Fire but won't release the company's name.

However, Team 10 Troubleshooter Cristin Severance found out that, by law, the agencies must release this information to the public.

Josh Himelbu was home when the Bernardo Fire started, and he said, "It was surreal, it was crazy. You see movies where yards and fields are on fire and it one point it did look like it was the end of the world."

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department sent out a release that states the Metro Arson Strike Team determined the fire started at a construction site. They said it was accidentally started by a backhoe that was digging a trench.

Team 10's next question was who owned the backhoe, and the San Diego Fire Department who said in an email:

"The construction company's name hasn't been released.

It's my understanding they took reasonable precautions; had fire extinguishers at the site and used them but were unable to put out the fire."

Team 10 asked the fire department again for the name of the company that owned the backhoe that started the fire. They responded:

"The fire remains under investigation and the Metro Arson Strike Team is not releasing other details."

The release clearly states they conducted an extensive investigation and they know where the fire started, by what and by whom, but they would not tell Team 10 the name of the company, citing an ongoing investigation.

Attorney Guylyn Cummins said they have to release this sort of public information by law.

"According to the California Public Records Act and California's constitution, that kind of information should be made public. I'm not aware of any exemption for them to withhold it," said Cummins.

Himelbu said it's just the right thing to do.

"The companies who have the big oil spills and the thing, those guys have to have huge campaigns and commercials. These guys need to start kissing some butts," said Himeblu.

Team 10 did submit a California Public Records Request to the city for them to release this information.

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