Company linked to Bernardo Fire start revealed

SAN DIEGO - Local investigators Tuesday identified the company whose work and equipment sparked last month's Bernardo Fire.

According to the San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team, GEOCON Incorporated was "conducting soil testing by digging a series of small trenches" at a construction site near Del Norte High School in 4S Ranch on May 13. The company subcontracted with Hillside Excavating for the soil testing, MAST said.

Investigators said after trenches were dug by a backhoe operator, witnesses noticed smoke and flames. According to MAST, the "backhoe operator and other witnesses attempted to extinguish the flames, but were unsuccessful."

At that point, according to investigators, the fire quickly spread to dry brush. The Bernardo Fire went on to burn 1,548 acres.

MAST officials said they have concluded their investigation and determined that the fire was accidental.

The case will be "reviewed by the San Diego [County] District Attorney's Office and the San Diego City Attorney's Office to ensure no laws or regulations were violated by Hillside Excavating," according to MAST officials.

In the days after the fire, Team 10 made multiple requests to authorities to release the name of the company responsible for starting the fire but information was initially withheld due to the investigation.

Team 10 also submitted a California Public Records Request to the city for them to release the information.

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