[LA FEATURE]California Wildfires


Coverage of brush fires across the state

Homeless Man Using Blow Torch to Heat Coffee Sparks Brush Fire in Lake Elsinore

The fire was sparked at a homeless encampment in Lake Elsinore on May 10

By Jason Kandel
|  Saturday, May 18, 2013  |  Updated 11:10 AM PDT
View Comments (
Man Heating Coffee With Torch Sparks Fire

Getty Images

A homeless man using a handheld propane torch to heat up coffee last week sparked a fire that burned an encampment in Lake Elsinore.

The fire scorched an eighth of an acre of brush at 3 p.m. on May 10 near a drainage area off Auto Center and Diamond drives, said Joel Vela, a battalion chief with the Riverside County Fire Department.

"He burned down his home," Vela said.

The man was using a propane torch that's available at stores like Home Depot, Vela said.

The torch was leaking and when the man tried to fix it, more fuel leaked out and ignited a fire that temporarily shut down lanes of Auto Center Drive, Vela said.

The man's effort to put out the flames failed and the fire department was called.

The man, who suffered first-degree burns, refused medical treatment, Vela said.

A call to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department seeking information about any criminal charges was not immediately returned.

View Larger Map

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
Leave Comments
What's New
Running Dry
Coverage of the California drought. Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out