Multiple fires were intentionally set on Stearns Wharf at around 3 a.m. last night, but officials with Santa Barbara City Fire and the Harbor Patrol were able to extinguish them quickly. The fires did not result in any structural damage to the wharf itself, but there was some damage to the Harbor Restaurant and an area near the wharf’s maintenance shed.
“There were multiple ‘starts’,” said City Fire PIO Gary Pitney. “The evidence points to arson.”
The first two fires were noticed by California Highway Patrol officers patrolling Cabrillo Boulevard at about 3 a.m. near the wharf’s ticket kiosk. City firefighters and the Harbor Patrol were able to put those out with portable fire extinguishers, but then they also noticed smoke coming from near the Harbor Restaurant and the maintenance shed. Another Harbor Patrol boat as well as three engines and a fire truck were called out, and together they were able to control those additional fires quickly. Deeper investigation revealed even more fires on the “wharf deck area,” but those were also put out fast.
Around that time, Pitney said that the wharf’s private security firm and Harbor Patrol officials put the wharf on a sort of lockdown. “There were several people questioned,” he explained, referring to those who happened to also be on the wharf at that time.
The case is now being handled jointly by the fire and police departments as well as the Harbor Patrol. The wharf and the Harbor Restaurant remain open for business, although there is a power outage currently affecting some of the businesses.