A short time later, police caught up with the man they believe was Dorner, surrounding a cabin in which he had taken refuge after crashing Heltebrake's truck 80 miles east of Los Angeles. A gunfight ensued in which one sheriff's deputy was killed and another wounded.
Then, as the gunfire ended, the cabin erupted in flames.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Wednesday his deputies did not intentionally burn down the cabin. His deputies shot pyrotechnic tear gas into the cabin, and it erupted in flames, he said.
McMahon did not say directly that the tear gas started the blaze, and the cause of the fire remained unclear.
A charred body was found in the basement, along with a wallet and personal items, including a California driver's license with the name Christopher Dorner, an official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe.
McMahon said authorities have not positively identified the remains.
Recalling his encounter, Heltebrake said Wednesday that he wasn't panicked in his meeting with Dorner because he didn't feel the fugitive wanted to hurt him. "He wasn't wild-eyed, just almost professional," he said. "He was on a mission."
"It was clear I wasn't part of his agenda and there were other people down the road that were part of his agenda," he said.