Another outhouse goes up in flames

Thirty times in about a year, the Fire Department has responded to a torched portable toilet. And all 30 times, no one has been around to take the heat.

The most recent loo victimized was in a driveway in the Marina district at 2258 Francisco St., which initially came in as a report of a couch set ablaze, according to fire officials.

It’s the third such incident in the past month — one on Haight Street last week and another at 1818 Broadway in November being the other two — but the trend is far too familiar in San Francisco.

Between November 2008 and March, 27 toilets were set on fire in The City, most in the Russian Hill neighborhood.

Fire officials have said there’s no way to tell if it’s even the same person igniting the petroleum-based outhouses because everything happens within a matter of minutes.

The only consistency is that they’re typically lit during “sleeping hours,” fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

The incident in the Marina did not damage anything around it, but Talmadge has said previous fires did and the arsons are a major safety issue.

Someone caught torching a toilet may face three to eight years in prison, according to police.

Talmadge estimated each time firefighters respond to a flaming toilet, it costs about $2,500 in damage. That doesn’t include when nearby vehicles or buildings get in the line of fire.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

Timeline of fires

The following shows the date, location and time of portable toilet arsons in the past 14 months:

Date, Site, Time

11/06/08, 838 Bay, overnight

11/08/08, 1455 Vallejo, 1:16 a.m.

11/13/08, Powell-Francisco, 12:04 a.m.

11/13/08, 733 Chestnut, 10:47 p.m.

11/20/08, Jones-Chestnut, 1:59 a.m.

11/28/08, 1455 Vallejo, 2:44 a.m.

11/30/08, 1215 Filbert, 12:12 a.m.

12/03/08, Octavia-Green, 5:14 a.m.

12/07/08, Van Ness-Vallejo, 3:22 a.m.

12/12/08, Pierce-Filbert, 6:23 a.m.

12/13/08, Franklin-Jackson, 8:55 p.m.

12/18/08, 3132 Scott, 6:15 a.m.

12/20/08, 1651 Washington, 4:45 a.m.

12/23/08, Taylor-Union, 12:45 a.m.

12/29/08, 1147 Filbert, 2:35 a.m.

01/01/09, 425 Vermont, 2:49 p.m.

01/01/09, 3041 Laguna, 5:04 p.m.

01/06/09, 1455 Greenwich, 3:30 a.m.

01/09/09, Gough-Union, 4:33 a.m.

01/14/09, 1244 Washington, 3:57 a.m.

01/18/09, 2666 Vallejo, 5:37 a.m.

01/22/09, Scott-Marina, 1:04 a.m.

02/01/09, 2040 Broadway, 3:50 a.m.

02/09/09, 762 Chestnut, 5:25 a.m.

02/15/09, 187 Henry Adams, 4:25 a.m.

02/17/09, 444 Kansas, 11:50 p.m.

02/22/09, 1 South Park, 7:23 p.m.

11/13/09, 1818 Broadway, 1:15 a.m.

12/12/09, 611 Haight, 3:20 a.m.

12/20/09, 2258 Francisco, 3:48 a.m.

Source: Fire Department

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