UPDATE: The Carlsbad Police made an arrest for arson. Details in the story.
CARLSBAD — Area firefighters extinguished a 10-acre vegetation fire after roughly 90 minutes on June 25 at the Buena Vista Lagoon in Carlsbad.
The Boulevard Fire, which started at approximately 12:40 p.m. on Saturday, spread quickly and threatened nearby houses and Maxton Brown Park. Law enforcement and first responders immediately evacuated residents from their homes, some with little time to grab their personal effects.
No injuries or damaged structures were reported.
According to a press release by the Carlsbad Police Department, a witness noticed a man lighting an object and throwing it into heavy brush, which subsequently caught on fire.
While searching the area for a suspect, officers made contact with David Prosser, 59, of Carlsbad. Prosser was arrested for resisting officers and later a witness identified him as the person observed starting the blaze. Prosser was transported to a local hospital and booked into the Vista Detention Facility for arson and resisting arrest. The suspect’s bail was set at $75,000.
Fire crews responded from Carlsbad, Oceanside and CalFire, along with law enforcement personnel from Carlsbad, Oceanside and the Sheriff’s Department. A county helicopter scooped up water from the lagoon and dropped it on hot spots at 1:41 p.m. Saturday, per wire reports.
“We got a call and units were here immediately,” Lawton said. “We immediately started evacuations. Fortunately, everyone responded quickly and was able to evacuate. At this point, we’re not sure of the reason of the fire.
“With the wind blowing to the houses, we had our officers going door-to-door and doing PA announcements. We were able to clear it out quickly so fire (fighters) could get in there.”
Amid the chaos, one elderly couple, attempted to drive through the evacuation zone on Buena Vista Lagoon Circle off Laguna Drive. A firefighter, who was running a hose to a nearby fire hydrant, yelled at the driver to turn around and not to drive on the hose.
Lulu and Mike Peelle, who live on Buena Vista Lagoon Circle, said they observed the start of the blaze. Mike said the fire, which started about 100 to 200 feet east of Coast Highway, spread extremely fast, racing to within 100 feet from their home in roughly 10 minutes.
High easterly winds accelerated the threat, leaving the Peelles no time to gather their possessions. Mike’s wife, Lulu, said she called the fire department and told them to send trucks to the east side of the lagoon near the residences to outflank the blaze.
“We see this thing approaching and we have out our little fire houses,” Lulu said. “The wind coming from the west was just galloping toward us. I’m still shaken. I honestly thought we were going to lose our house.”
“By the time we started spraying, it was halfway across the lagoon,” Mike said.
Lulu said due to the amount of dry brush near the lagoon, the fire was able to spread rapidly.
“Maybe now they’ll do something about the lagoon,” Lulu said. “That is so dangerous in so many ways.”
The couple said they are thankful for the quick response by first responders and are happy their home was saved.
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