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Santa Barbara police arrest transient on arson charges following encampment fire


Police have arrested 37-year-old Jason A. Adams on arson charges and assault on a police officer related to the brush fire in the area of southbound U.S. Highway 101 and Milpas Street off-ramp Thursday evening.

The Santa Barbara Police Department says one officer was on a traffic stop when he saw the fire and called it in to dispatch. The officer walked around the scene of the fire, according to police, and found Adams apparently consuming alcohol and sitting watching the homeless encampment burn. Police say no one else was around the scene at the time.

At one point, authorities say, the officer questioned Adams about the fire but said he didn’t start it. Soon after, a struggle happened between Adams and the officer over the alcohol, police say. The officer got punched in the face but besides complaining of some minor pain, the police department insists the officer was not injured.


Firefighters were quick to control a small brush fire that broke out on U.S. Highway 101 near Santa Barbara’s Eastside Thursday evening.

The fire broke out at about 7:30 p.m. near the southbound Highway 101 Milpas Street offramp

Large flames could be seen from the highway and a plume of black smoke rose up over Santa Barbara and drifted toward the ocean.

Santa Barbara City firefighters responded to the blaze and were able to quickly get it under control.

City fire officials believe the fire originated in a homeless encampment near the highway. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

Nearby, police detained a man believed to be a transient after getting into a scuffle with officers. It’s unclear if that person was connected to the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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