Teenager arrested in downtown Burlingame fire

Burlingame police arrested a 13-year-old boy Friday on suspicion of starting a fire downtown that caused $1.3 million in damage to 15 businesses and two apartments.

The fire Wednesday spread to two apartments and 10 businesses on the second floor between 1227-1241 Burlingame Ave. and 240-250 Park Road. Five first-floor businesses in the area also suffered water damage.

The boy was misusing matches that fell into a trash can in a second-floor garbage room, Central County Fire Marshal Rocque Yballa said. The boy was charged with unlawful burning of a building and trespassing.

The boy lives in Burlingame but was not a resident of the building, Burlingame police Sgt. Dawn Cutler said.

The identity of the boy is being withheld because he is a minor. He was transferred to Hillcrest Juvenile Hall in San Mateo, Cutler said.

The boy was the only suspect, Yballa said.

Six fire agencies, three trucks and 52 firefighters responded to the fire, Yballa said. The building’s second floor was not fully equipped with a sprinkler system, which could have staved off the fire if installed, Yballa added.

For a brief time, flames were visible through the roof as hundreds of onlookers observed from closed-off sections of downtown Burlingame.

Ceilings of the top-floor businesses were destroyed because of firefighting in the attic above. The fire destroyed virtually all equipment that was not in file cabinets and desks, property owner Roger Reinhart said.

Most of the first-floor businesses were up and running this weekend and the rest will be able to open once utilities are restored, Yballa said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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