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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 9:28 pm | Fair 46º


Guadalupe Man Arrested after Allegedly Setting Fire to Santa Maria Police Station Lobby

A Guadalupe man was arrested early Sunday after allegedly using a Christmas tree to start a fire in the lobby of the Santa Maria Police Department.

Steven Minami Click to view larger
Steven Minami (Santa Maria Police Department photo)

Just before 4 a.m., officers were summoned to the 2-year-old station’s front lobby, where a man had called the dispatch center saying he was paranoid and believed someone had hacked into his computer.

The man, Steven Minami, 23, had used the inter-office phone for the public to talk to dispatchers after hours.

“When officers did not respond as quickly as Minami wanted, he grabbed a department-decorated Christmas tree and placed it on top of some chairs,” Lt. Terry Flaa said.

“Minami then lit the tree on fire, which caused the building’s fire protection sprinkler system to activate.”

He said the sprinklers quickly extinguished the fire, although “a large amount of smoke filled the front of the building.”

Officers found Minami in front of the police station and arrested him, Flaa said.

A portion of the police stations’s interior walls and flooring had water and smoke damage from the incident.

The extent of the damage is under evaluation, Flaa said Sunday afternoon.

Minami was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of felony arson, vandalism and public intoxication, with bail set at $250,000.

Police moved into the larger headquarters, at 1111 W. Betteravia Road, in mid-2015.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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