S.F. officials look into suspicious trash-can blazes

San Francisco arson investigators continue to search for answers to four suspicious trashcan fires set within a six-block radius in The City’s Western Addition district early Tuesday morning, one causing $65,000 worth of property damage.

The fires, set in trash receptacles outside homes and businesses, occurred from about 2 to 4 a.m. in a neighborhood bound by Broderick, Webster, Bush and Sutter streets, officials said.

No injuries were reported, said fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge.

The worst of the fires occurred in trashcans in a narrow alleyway between two buildings on the 2100 block of Sutter Street. The flames leapt quickly to the tops of the structures, scorching the sides of the buildings, melting the receptacles and causing about $65,000 in exterior property damage, witnesses and officials said.

One building owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, said a bright light in his window woke him shortly before 4 a.m. He was displaced from his apartment for about an hour, while residents of the adjacent building were also forced to evacuate their homes for a short period of time.

“At first it was the lower half of the building, and by the time I woke up, it was over my head,” he said.

Investigators are looking into three other fires that occurred within a six-block radius — one near the UC San Francisco medical offices at Divisadero and Sutter streets, another at Bush and Webster streets and a third at Sutter and Broderick streets.

While there have been 61 reported incidents of vandalism in the Western Addition in the past 90 days, there have not been any reported acts of arson in that same time period, according to the San Francisco Police Department’s Crime Maps Web site.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the district that encompasses the Western Addition, said Tuesday morning’s incidents are extremely uncommon for that area.

“The pattern is extremely alarming,” he said. “I am counting on the police, fire department and the community’s help to put a stop to it.”

arocha@examiner.com

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