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Santa Rosa man died in car fire

The victim of a fatal fire at a west Santa Rosa sports complex has been identified as Jorge Medina Barajas, 33, of Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office said Monday.

Barajas died Jan. 15 in the parking lot at A Place to Play on West Third Street near Fulton Road, authorities said.

It remains unclear what started the fire in the Honda Civic hatchback, where Barajas had been living, but the fact that it was packed with clothing and other belongings permitted the fire to burn quickly, at high temperatures, acting Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Mark Pedroia said.

Fire investigators “tore the car apart” and found nothing that explained flames in the interior of the vehicle, Pedroia said.

They are awaiting blood toxicology test results to help determine Barajas’ status at the time of the fire to try to evaluate the likelihood of an accidental or deliberate start, Pedroia said.

Barajas reportedly parked his car at A Place to Play from time to time and was there Jan. 15, a Wednesday, when the car burst into flames shortly before 4 p.m., authorities said.

Firefighters found him half in and half outside the driver’s side door. His remains were burned beyond recognition, which is why his identity was not confirmed until recently.

His cause of death is still pending, Sonoma County Coroner’s Sgt. Greg Stashyn said.

— Mary Callahan

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