SAN DIEGO -- A stolen utility van plunged about 100 feet down a ravine and caught fire Thursday morning in Scripps Ranch.
The blaze began in the van's engine compartment shortly before 5 a.m. but did not spread to the brush in the canyon area off Scripps Lake Drive near Scripps Ranch Boulevard, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Lee Swanson said.
Fire crews on the ground and in a SDFR helicopter equipped with a thermal imaging device searched the area, but did not locate the van's driver or any passengers.
"Our folks were out hiking around the canyon trying to look into bushes in the dark,” said San Diego Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Dan Froelich at a morning briefing. “They were unable to find anybody. So we brought a helicopter in, they have some tools on the helicopter that can assist in trying to find the victim, if they are in the canyon. They searched the area, identified some areas for us to search better. We went to those areas on foot, and still were not able to find anybody."
SDFR investigators on scene later confirmed that the van, which belongs to County Burner & Machine Corp. was stolen from the company. The circumstances of the theft were not immediately disclosed.
It was not immediately clear how the fire started. The investigation is ongoing. The charred van was pulled out by a tow truck at around 6:45 a.m.