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Authorities Still Seeking Public’s Help in Identifying Burned Body

The male body was found last week amid fire remnants along Highway 101 on the Nojoqui Grade

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday that it has received several tips from members of the public, but it’s too soon to say whether they’ve been helpful in identifying a severely burned male body found last week alongside Highway 101 about six miles south of Buellton.

The California Highway Patrol and Santa Barbara County firefighters responded about 4:15 a.m. Thursday to a fire on the northbound side of the freeway on the Nojoqui Grade and discovered a body in the remnants of the flames.

The identity and circumstances of the man’s death are still being investigated, and authorities are asking the public for assistance.

There’s a possibility that the fire was started in connection with the body, and authorities are seeking information related to any cars stopped in the area or other relevant information in the hours preceding the fire, according to Sheriff’s Department public information officer Drew Sugars.

“In the dark, the body was very easy to miss,” Sugars said. “In the fire, it was very easy to spot.”

The man’s age and ethnicity are unknown, but his left hand was deformed before the fire. It is underdeveloped with three digits, though it’s unknown whether it was a deformity from birth or from an accident suffered at an early age, Sugars said. The man also wore dentures.

The results of Friday’s autopsy, which haven’t been released, and finding the man’s identity are the “big hurdles” in the investigation, Sugars said.

Anyone with any information about the case is asked to call sheriff’s detectives at 805.934.6170 or the Sheriff’s Anonymous Tip Line at 805.681.4171.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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