Arsonist sets pamphlets ablaze in SF library room for blind, print disabled

A man set fire to a stack of pamphlets in San Francisco’s main library branch in the unit block of Grove Street on Sunday, damaging cassette tapes, chairs and computers, police Sgt. Daryl Fong said.

The fire alarm was triggered at 3:37 p.m. The fire was set in the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled room on the second floor, library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers said, which is typically closed on Sundays.

“It’s a very specific, separate area that is only accessible from Larkin Street,” she said.

The man reportedly grabbed some informational pamphlets from behind a reference desk, threw them on the floor and dropped a match on it, Jeffers said.

Although the whole building was evacuated, no injuries were reported.

“Nobody was very close to that area, thankfully,” Jeffers said.

The fire was extinguished by “one of our engineers and a custodian,” before the sprinkler system went off, which would have increased the damages the library sustained, she said.

The library sustained $5,000 worth of damage, $500 of which was content, Fire Department Lt. Karen Kerr said. There was no structural damage, only cosmetic, Jeffers said.

“We’re pleased there wasn’t any more damage than that,” she said.

Video surveillance captured a suspect in the area of the fire, Fong said. Police were still searching for him Monday.

He is described as a black man, 20 to 40 years old with black hair wearing a black baseball cap with a white logo, black jacket, dark jeans and white shoes, Fong said.

The Arson Task Force is requesting the public’s assistance with their investigation. Anyone with information on the suspect is encouraged to call the task force at (415) 920-2944.

Services for the blind and print disabled will be temporarily available at the library’s desk services center on the first floor. The Library for the Blind and Print Disabled will hopefully be reopened tomorrow, Jeffers said.

rnagle@sfexaminer.com

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