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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 10:00 am | Fair 52º


Arson Suspected in Series of Fires at Stearns Wharf

A joint investigation is under way into the early-morning blazes, which were quickly contained

A joint investigation was under way Thursday after officials discovered a series of suspicious fires set early in the morning around Stearns Wharf.

About 3 a.m. Thursday, California Highway Patrol officers in the area of Cabrillo Boulevard discovered a fire near the ticket kiosk at the base of the wharf. The Santa Barbara City Fire Department and Harbor Patrol were called, but before they arrived, officers were able to use portable extinguishers to control the flames, according to fire Capt. Steve Berman.

Crews investigating the initial fires then observed smoke coming from an area adjacent to the Harbor Restaurant and further east, near the wharf maintenance shed. Firefighters quickly contained those blazes.

An inspection of the wharf by Harbor Patrol, fire crews and Santa Barbara police officers revealed multiple fires in various locations throughout the wharf deck area, which were quickly brought under control.

Berman said there appears to be no structural damage to the wharf itself.

Because of the suspicious nature of the fires, a joint investigation is being conducted by the city Fire Prevention Bureau, the Santa Barbara Police Department and Harbor Patrol, according to Berman.

The wharf and the Harbor Restaurant are open for business, but Edison crews will be on scene working to repair equipment. A power outage will affect some businesses until work is complete.

Stearns Wharf has been the scene of several historic blazes. The original Harbor Restaurant burned in 1973, and the Ty Warner Sea Center was the scene of a fire in 1986. In 1998, fire destroyed several businesses, including Moby Dick Restaurant.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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