San Diego

Man In Custody After Series of Fires Break Out in Ocean Beach

The fires damaged or destroyed at least six vehicles, a fence, and several large trash cans, police said, estimating damage at $23,000.

A man was arrested Friday and accused of starting a series of fires in Ocean Beach, police said. 

Michael Barringer, 26, was detained in an alley off Spray Street, San Diego police (SDPD) Sgt. Rick Pechin said.

There was evidence linking Barringer to the arsons, Pechin said. 

The fires damaged or destroyed at least six vehicles, a fence, and several large trash cans, police said, estimating damage at $23,000.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department responded to the fire calls from about midnight to about 6 a.m. Friday, SDFD Capt. Cory Beckwith said.

Beckwith said it was clear the fires were intentionally set.

"Anytime you have multiple fires like that you know it's incendiary and suspicious," he said.

The fires were at the following locations:

  • 4900 Cape May Ave. (north alley)
  • 4800 Santa Monica Ave. (north alley)
  • 4900 Niagara Ave.
  • 5000 Newport Ave. (north alley)
  • 2100 Spray Street (east alley)
  • 5100 Long Branch Ave.
  • 5100 Muir Ave.
  • 5000 Voltaire St (south alley)
  • 5100 Voltaire St (south alley)
In most cases, fires were set in trash bins that were pulled up next to a car.

"Someone had pushed recycling bins next to [our car] and stuffed a bunch of stuff in the exhaust pipe and tried to light that," Ocean Beach resident John Tschirgi said. 

About two fires were set in dumpsters and one convertible was set on fire from the inside, Beckwith said. 

The first fire broke out near Pat's Liquor at the intersection of Abbott and Voltaire streets at about 12:30 a.m., the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said. 

As firefighters were working to extinguish the fire, they noticed smoke nearby. Another rubbish fire was burning at W. Point Loma Boulevard and Muir Avenue, police said.

Firefighters cleared the scene but were called back at about 3 a.m. for another series of fires, then for a third time at about 5:30 a.m.

One fire prompted the evacuation of a nearby apartment complex as flames shot into the air, Beckwith said.

"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," Tschirgi said. 

The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) was able to retrieve video shot by a witness nearby, Beckwith said.

A person of interest was taken into custody near Long Beach Avenue and Spray Street but has not yet been named as a suspect. 

"I mean, it’s OB so unfortunately, these things are not that rare, someone was around lighting up fires," Tschirgi said.

Police still have no motive for the arsons and are still questioning Barringer, Pechin said.

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