Body found inside burned Del Cerro-area home

Posted at 11:33 AM, Jun 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-06 02:30:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A man's body was found inside a Del Cerro-area home that investigators say was intentionally set on fire. 

Crews responded to the two-alarm fire in the 5900 block of Bernadette Lane just after 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Kelly Zombro.

Zombro said they believe the fire started in the first floor of the house, and it then quickly spread to the second floor and into the attic.

While residents raised concerns about the fire possibly spreading to other homes or nearby vegetation, Zombro said crews were able to get a good handle on the blaze. According to Zombro, the weather conditions helped in keeping embers from spreading.

Three Good Samaritans used nearby garden hoses to spray down neighboring homes. 

"One guy in front, one guy in back. We’re trying to get the thing out," neighbor Bill Kintzele said. 

It helped. They were able to get all the neighbors out in time, and save nearby structures.

The coroner has not released the identity of the person found. Arson investigators are looking into this incident as a possible suicide.

Last year, Team10 did an investigative piece on the homeowner, Mark Himmel. Himmel is the former owner of Sa-ling jewelry. His former customers said he refused to give back their heirloom jewelry.

A little digging on Himmel showed the Franchise Tax Board revoked his right to operate his business, because he owed more than $2,300 in taxes. 

Neighbors told 10News the home was recently foreclosed, and that Himmel no longer lived there. However, one neighbor said he saw him Tuesday morning. 

"He pulled up front in his van, and was out front at around 5 'o clock this morning," Kintzele said.

Authorities said the medical examiner will later determine what caused the death. 

San Diego Fire-Rescue crews were assisted in the firefighting effort by personnel from the Santee and La Mesa fire departments.

The fire comes just days after a brush fire burned nearly 40 acres in the Del Cerro area Sunday, just west of Tuesday's fire. The blaze shut down Interstate 8 and forced neighbors to evacuate the area.

That was was determined to have been started by two children, according to investigators.