Body found inside burning car at Santa Rosa park

  • Santa Rosa fire investigators study the scene of a car fire, Wednesday Jan. 15at A Place to Play park on West Third Street in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

Firefighters found a charred body inside a car that burst into flames Wednesday afternoon in a parking lot at the Place to Play sports complex in west Santa Rosa.

Investigators could not immediately determine whether the occupant of the car committed suicide or was the victim of a homicide.

“It’s way too early to tell,” Santa Rosa police Sgt. Mike Lazzarini said.

The body was so badly burned that Lazzarini could not determine whether it was a male or female.

The fire was reported at 3:49 p.m. Wednesday in a parking lot at Place to Play, a sprawling complex of soccer and baseball fields off West Third Street.

When firefighters arrived, they found flames and smoke billowing from the passenger area of a teal Honda Civic, Lazzarini said. When they extinguished the flames, they found a body inside the car.

Chad Silva, a Santa Rosa resident, was at a dirt track where enthusiasts race radio-controlled cars just south of the parking lot when he looked up and noticed flames rising from the Honda. He was surprised to learn that someone was in the car.

“We were sitting here playing when all of a sudden someone said ‘There’s a car on fire,’ and sure enough, it was,” Silva said.

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