Officials trying to find source of weird smell across county

City News Service

Dozens of people reported getting wind of a noxious chemical-type odor in numerous San Diego neighborhoods Wednesday, sending firefighters through the city in a fruitless search for the source of the stench.

People began making emergency calls about 2 p.m. to report a pervasive and pungent smell variously described as akin to kerosene, diesel fuel, bus exhaust, lighter fluid and other petroleum-based substances, according to Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Calls flooded in to area TV stations, 9-1-1 and lifeguards.

There were no reports that the vapors led to any physical ailments, he said.

Engine crews investigated the widespread affected areas, including Del Mar Heights, Scripps Ranch, La Jolla, Hillcrest and downtown San Diego, finding no apparent source.

They can’t isolate what it is,’' Luque said in the early evening.

Some of those who whiffed the odor speculated that it may have emanated from aircraft, possibly a military jet with a fuel leak, KFMB-TV reported.

The unexplained phenomenon was similar to an episode that occurred about a year ago, when people in various San Diego beach areas began complaining of a lingering stink comparable to rotten eggs.

Authorities eventually determined that decaying vegetation in and around estuaries and ocean inlets was to blame for the foul smell, Luque said.