Investigators from San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) are asking the public for help with the case involving an early morning fire at the City Heights home of San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher and his wife, longtime local politician Lorena Gonzalez.
The couple and their children were sleeping when the fire was lit and were forced to flee the flames burning outside their house early on the morning of Jan. 12. By the time firefighters arrived, the exterior of the house near the front porch was heavily charred and the flames were hot enough to damage a vehicle parked nearby. The family was able to escape uninjured. Damages were estimated at $35,000.
At the time, investigators said they believed the fire to be "suspicious," but on Friday, officials confirmed they believed the case was arson, saying that the "fire is believed to be intentionally set."
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NBC 7 reached out to Fletcher for a comment regarding Friday's development in the case.
“My family and I appreciate the commitment and dedication of all those involved in the investigation," Fletcher replied.
Police officers were quickly on the scene and firefighters saved the house, Fletcher said.
The fire also burned an American flag outside the front of the home, according to Fletcher, a former Marine who served two combat tours.
Photos: Nathan Fletcher, Lorena Gonzalez and Family Escape Fire at San Diego Home
“Our family is safe and for us, that is all that matters," he said.
Fletcher and Gonzalez are both Democrats. Fletcher, who was elected chair for the second year in a row on Tuesday, went from his home to a county board of supervisors meeting, where he was officially sworn in.
Fletcher briefly addressed the incident at the meeting and then said it was time to get to work.
The Democratic supervisor has been an outspoken proponent of the county’s COVID-19 policies and has advocated for business restrictions during peak periods of the pandemic, drawing fervent support and criticism. He has often led the county's pandemic news briefings and fielded questions about state restrictions, to some extent making him a leading face of the government response.
Public comments made during the county supervisor meetings have featured angry yelling over public health restrictions.
Gonzalez has also drawn strong reactions from supporters and critics. As a Democratic state assemblywoman, she successfully pushed for her ambitious labor laws, including a gig worker law. She sharply criticized Elon Musk after the founder of Tesla Inc. threatened to move company headquarters out of California amid reopening restrictions. Tesla later announced it was moving to Texas.
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The week prior to the fire, Gonzalez resigned from the California State Assembly to become leader of the California Labor Federation.
Crime Stoppers said Friday that they were offering a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone with information that leads to an arrest in the case. Tips can be called in to MAST at 619-236-6240 to anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.
The Associated Press contributed to this story — Ed.