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Orange County Digest

Laguna Beach : Critically Burned Victim of Car Fire Is Identified

December 28, 1985|Mark I. Pinsky \f7

Fire officials on Friday identified the victim of a Laguna Beach car fire as Barbara Ann Auerbach, 65, of 272 High Drive. Auerbach remained in critical condition late Friday at the burn unit of UCI Medical Center in Orange, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Private investigators specializing in car fires have joined Laguna Beach fire officials in trying to determine the cause of the blaze inside the automobile, said Battalion Chief Rich Dewberry.

"It's going to be an extensive investigation" to determine the cause of the fire, the chief said, "if we ever find out."

Auerbach, who Dewberry described as being "of very slight build," was found Thursday afternoon, buckled in a seated position in the passenger side of the vehicle. The car was parked with the engine shut off in the Boat Canyon shopping center at 600 North Coast Highway while the driver, who was not identified, was inside a food market. Customers at the center noticed smoke inside the car, which they believed to be unoccupied, and telephoned the Fire Department.

Firefighters arrived within 10 minutes and extinguished the blaze in three minutes, Dewberry said. A police officer gave the firefighters keys to the car and the door of the passenger side was opened immediately, releasing a large quantity of smoke.

"The back window was broken out in order to search the back-seat area where a person was believed to be," the chief said. "The firefighters found no one" in the back seat and, after searching again, found Auerbach, who was treated at the scene and airlifted to UCI Medical Center.

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