Recent Arson Fires in OB and Point Loma Is Third Series of Intentional Blazes in Less Than Two Years in Area

by on September 30, 2019 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

The big news from the Peninsula this past weekend is the rash of fires in OB and Point Loma set intentionally, beginning early Saturday morning, September 28.

At least five fires set are being investigated as arson, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said. Plus, firefighters point out all of the fires were within 10 miles of each other and were mainly rubbish fires set in backyards.

This series of arson fires is actually the third such series of intentionally-set blazes in less than two years in the Ocean Beach and Point Loma areas.

The current rash of fires included:

  •  a patio on Froude Street in Ocean Beach around 1 a.m.;
  • the 2nd blaze was put out by firefighters on Piedmont Drive;
  • the 3rd was on Catalina Place in Point Loma;
  • a fourth fire around 4 a.m. on Monaco Street near Sunset Cliffs; and
  • the fifth fire was discovered an hour later on La Cresta Drive in Point Loma.

There were no reported injuries, yet the similarities between the fires and their approximate locations to one another lead fire investigators to believe they were set by an arsonist. At this point, no arrests have been made.

At least one news report set the first fire was on Muir Avenue.

Police said: “The San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) is investigating several suspicious rubbish fires which occurred last night in the Point Loma and Ocean Beach communities. Investigators are trying to determine if the fires are related.”

The local news media were all over this story on the weekend – usually a slow time for news. Yet none of the 4 or 5 or 6 media reports on this series of arson fires connected the dots to other recent rashes of arson in the OB and PL areas.

The fact is this is the third set of series of arson fires in the area in less than two years.

Back in mid-July 2018, large trash cans and blue recyclable containers were moved next to vehicles and set on fire. One fire caused the evacuation of an apartment complex. Here’s more of our report:

Six vehicles – including a classic MGB convertible – were damaged. A box had been placed inside a 1979 convertible and set on fire, destroying the interior. Besides property damage, there were no injuries reported.

Fires had been set between 11pm Thursday to about 6am, and included one in an alley near Bacon Street and Cape May Avenue, on Newport Avenue, Niagara Avenue, Santa Monica Avenue, Spray Street, Long Branch Avenue and Muir Avenue.

As fire crews and police investigated the fires, it was then a man who appeared to be in the process of starting a fire was seen on Long Branch and Spray Street and detained. Barringer was arrested allegedly with a butane lighter. At this point, no motive is known. A local resident told the media he recognized Barringer as a guy who was often seen walking around in the area, sometimes singing to himself. …

In the fire that forced the apartment complex evacuation, OB resident John Tschirgi was quoted as saying: “Someone had pushed recycling bins next to [our car] and stuffed a bunch of stuff in the exhaust pipe and tried to light that.”

“We were asleep and not thinking too clearly and thought it was a car peeling off and cops chasing, and shortly thereafter we had a knock on our door from our neighbor saying to come down.” OB Rag 8/20/18

Then in early December 2017, another 5 fires – intentionally set – plagued Ocean Beach and Point Loma over the course of a few days. And SDPD arson investigators believe it is one person or group. All the fires were set in alleys and have caused more than $120,000 in damage. Here’s our report from then:

Up to now, police have no descriptions of the arsonist. All the fires were set at night, the two most recent on early Monday, the 11th, and only about 15 minutes apart.  Here’s a breakdown of the fires and their locations:

  • Orchard Avenue near Santa Barbara Street – on Thursday, Dec. 7th, about 7 p.m. in alley; estimated damage of $1,000 in damage to an older-model motor home.
  • Newport Avenue near Venice Street , in alley, also on Thursday, about 9:50pm; fire spread to utility trailer, motorcycle and the back of a home, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage.
  • Newport Avenue near Santa Barbara Street, in alley; it was reported on Saturday, Dec. 9th but could have been set either on Thursday or Friday; fire damaged canvas car canopy, with an estimated $1,000 loss.
  • Santa Cruz Avenue near Santa Barbara Street, in alley, reported at 2:10am on Monday, Dec. 11th; flames spread into back yard and caused $4,000 in estimated damages.
  • Muir Avenue near Guizot Street, in alley, 15 minutes after other fire on Monday. The blaze caused about $15,000 in damage to a trailer and outbuilding, plus burned a tree and a motor home. OB Rag 12/12/17

News sources of recent fires:







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