Fewer couch fires were reported this year in Isla Vista during move-out for college students — a statistic authorities hope could signal an end to the once-popular trend.
Just two couch-burning incidents were logged last weekend as thousands moved out of the densely populated community adjacent to the UC Santa Barbara campus after graduation or for the summer.
Those couch fires occurred on El Nido and Sabado Tarde streets, and did not involve any arrests, according to Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Six fires were reported last year, leading to seven arrests, she said.
Authorities saw 25 couch-burning incidents during the same time period in 2012, and as many as 31 couch-burnings were reported in 2006, with 18 arrests, Hoover said.
She credited proactive steps taken by law enforcement for the crackdown, including increased deployments of deputies and fire investigators out in the field.
MarBorg Industries also upped its pick-up times to remove couches abandoned on Isla Vista streets more quickly, she said.
“While one couch burning is too many, we are pleased to see the number decrease, especially in light of the extreme drought conditions in Santa Barbara County,” Hoover said. “The presence of fire investigators is key in order to help us identify individuals responsible for setting couches on fire and those who attempt to fuel the fire.”
She said many students might have instead opted to donate couches and other furniture to an annual charity event happening this weekend at UCSB — some with charity on the mind following last month’s mass shooting that left six students dead.
That “GIVE sale” is taking place Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Embarcadero Hall parking lot at 935 Embarcadero Del Norte.
“The Isla Vista community and UCSB students have been through a lot recently with the mass murders that occurred and violence they experienced at Deltopia,” Hoover said. “The decrease in couch burnings may also be a reflection of the desire on the part of the students to not do anything that would cause trouble during such a difficult time.”