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Suspicious fires anger residents on Santa Barbara waterfront and Mesa

A series of fires Sunday night and Monday morning in Santa Barbara has residents nervous and upset, and fire investigators trying to find out all the causes.

One of the largest was in the parking lot of Pershing Park off Castillo Street where it connects to Wilson Street. There is a mix of housing, hotels, the carriage museum, city property and access to Santa Barbara City College in the area.

Resident Sylvia Butler said she came out to see flames climbing up in three areas. Her tenants came down calling 911 and grabbing a garden hose.

Santa Barbara City fire crews came in from two different directions to attack the flames up to 30 feet in the air and defend an exposed structure.

Some of the burning ashes landed on the roof, awnings and umbrellas.

Butler has cell phone video where you can hear her say, “Oh my God, the roof, our roof !”

She said there were multiple locations outside of her gate on fire. “I was so nervous I was screaming I was yelling.”

It’s an area where people have been known to hang out in the vegetation and where Butler has had to call police in the past.

“Oh yes, we were calling the police a lot and when the police come in and they remove people from here,” said Butler.

Her husband, Chuck says in the past he caught an intruder more than once taking clothing from his laundry room. “He was taking a bag of clothes and I took it away from him and he shoved me into the fence so I called it in as an assault.”

In addition to the fire near the Butler’s home, there were also fires along the 1200 and 1400 blocks of Shoreline Drive. In one location passersby were shocked by the damage to three palm trees and landscaping near a home. They plan on stepping up their neighborhood watch efforts, especially if there is someone active with fire on their streets.

Butler said the response was quick and effective to save her home. “When they left I gave them a hug and a kiss, one of the firemen!”

She is hoping residents review home video cameras and keep a watchful eye out in case there is an arsonist in the neighborhood so no further damage is done.

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