Santa Barbara authorities are investigating the death of an unidentified man whose body was found Monday morning in a burning drainage pipe under Highway 101.
Shortly after 2 a.m., 911 dispatchers received multiple calls of smoke in the area of Voluntario and Punta Gorda streets, with plumes billowing out of both sides of the pipe. CHP and fire teams closed all northbound lanes of the highway as they attempted to put out the fire. It was fully extinguished by 3:40 a.m. Shortly thereafter, the victim was located approximately 30 yards inside the pipe.
Police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood said the incident remains under investigation. He said the pipe was coated with a corrugated plastic lining that likely contributed to the severity of the blaze. Harwood noted that during the winter months, homeless people often start small fires to keep warm. He said the coroner was still working to identify the victim and notify his family.