Fire Set in Amtrak Station in Downtown Santa Barbara

Suspect Allegedly Started Fire in Nonoperational Fireplace Inside Passenger Waiting Area

The Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) received a report on October 21 from an Amtrak employee, claiming someone had started a fire inside the Amtrak station located at 209 State Street. The subject was still on scene, and the employee reporting the incident provided a description of the individual to dispatchers.

The suspect reportedly used newspapers to start a fire in the nonoperational fireplace located inside the passenger waiting area of the Amtrak station in downtown Santa Barbara. | Credit: SBPD

SBPD, Santa Barbara City Fire Department, and Amtrak Police responded to the reported fire. SBPD and Amtrak police officers arrived on scene, and it appeared the subject had used newspapers to start a fire in the nonoperational fireplace located inside the passenger waiting area. An Amtrak employee used a fire extinguisher to put the flames out before the fire could spread.

The suspect was identified as Lonniel Morgan, a 63-year-old transient man. Morgan had just come to Santa Barbara on an Amtrak train earlier that morning.

A witness who observed this incident stated they observed Morgan standing in front of the fire and appeared to be warming himself. There were numerous passengers in the lobby when smoke started billowing out of the nonoperational fireplace and filling the station. Morgan was identified by the witness and the Amtrak employee as the person who started the fire. 

Morgan was placed under arrest and booked in Santa Barbara County Jail for arson and arson during a state of emergency. He is being held on $350,000 bail.


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