Ocean Beach

Serial Arsonist Search Puts Ocean Beach on Alert

Residents are warned to report suspicious activity and clear properties of debris

San Diego Police are connecting five arson fires in as many days to one suspect or group.

Neighbors living near the corner of Muir Avenue and Guizot Street woke to the sound of blaring sirens and the sight of flashing lights Monday.

"I just don't understand it, I don't know why someone would do that,” neighbor Hunter Thompson said.

A shed, motorhome, and fence burned in the alley behind Thompson’s home.

Were it not for the fast action of firefighters, Thompson’s house and others could have been next.

"It’s one thing to say well, I'll make sure the grill is off or make sure there are no candles burning, but when someone just decides they are going to set something on fire there isn't much you can do to prepare for that," Thompson said. "That's pretty scary."

This is the latest of five fires investigators say were started by the same person or group. Each of those occurred within walking distance of the others.

The first was Thursday, Dec. 7, after 7 p.m., off Orchard Avenue. Later that night and into the next day, more fires were found near Newport Avenue and Santa Barbara Street.

On Monday, a fire was set on Santa Cruz Avenue and then another fire was set less than a mile away on Muir Avenue.

"I heard a bang really loudly," neighbor Marna Cahn said.

Cahn said the arsonist used a propane tank and loose debris to ignite that fire. 

"The lights were on in the apartment, they had to know there were people up there," Cahn said.

No one has seen the arsonist or caught the individual(s) on a security camera. Investigators said based on the evidence it is someone who lives in the neighborhood.

They are either on foot or on a bike. Whatever debris is available is used as a fire accelerant. 

Cahn fears these are not random crimes. She said this is someone with a plan, and possibly inspired by the wildfires up north.

"They are walking around checking out the neighborhood and seeing where they can curate the most damage," Cahn said.

Fire investigators urge residents to report suspicious activity and persons in their area.

They also encourage residents to clear the back areas of properties as best they can so as not to present an opportunity.

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