A vegetation fire reported at 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10, in UCSB's North Campus Open Space is being investigated by UCSB police as an arson. | Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire

As Santa Barbara County firefighters are busy battling the largest wildfire currently burning in the state — the nearly 29,000-acre Lake Fire north of Los Olivos — UC Santa Barbara Police Department on Wednesday afternoon received a report of an arson fire at the North Campus Open Space west of Isla Vista.

At around 3:40 p.m., firefighters responded to the blaze, which burned approximately 50 square yards of vegetation west of West Campus Family Housing, according to an alert sent to the UCSB community. Witnesses reported seeing a person of interest — described as a male subject wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black neck gaiter covering his face — leaving the area of the arson on a black bicycle westbound toward Ellwood. A skateboard was attached to the front handlebars of the bicycle, according to witnesses.

Wednesday’s fire comes on the heels of multiple reports of arson in and around Isla Vista on July 3, including a couch fire, two dumpster fires, and a fire in the bushes of Goleta’s Girsh Park, as well as arson fires involving a picnic table near the Storke Family Housing on March 12 and a burnt trampoline at the Family Housing Playground on June 9, according to a previous UCSB alert. It is currently unclear if any of those incidents are related to each other or this Wednesday’s fire.

If you have information that might assist in the investigation of this or any of the other fires, you can contact the UCSB Police Department at (805) 893-3446 or report information anonymously at police.ucsb.edu/report-crime.

UCPD reminds the campus community of the following:

Safety Tips

  • Call 9-1-1 to report an active fire. If you’re inside a building, walk quickly to evacuate. Do not use elevators. Once outside, move at least 50 feet from the affected building.
  • Report extinguished fires, no matter how small, to the UCSB Police Department by calling (805) 893-3446.  
  • Immediately report suspicious activity to the UCSB Police Department, including the use of open flame or someone talking about/planning an arson, by calling (805) 893-3446.
  • Additional fire procedures can be found here: emergency.ucsb.edu/emergency-response-procedures/fire


  • Fire Prevention Resources can be found on the Emergency Health & Safety Website: ehs.ucsb.edu/programs-services/fire-prevention
  • Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) provides individual counseling, group counseling, and wellness opportunities to students. Call (805) 893-4411 or submit a CAPS Services Request Form. 24/7 phone counseling is available by calling (805) 893-4411. CAPS website: caps.sa.ucsb.edu.
  • The Academic & Staff Assistance Program (ASAP) offers short-term counseling, consultation, wellness workshops, and assistance with threat management to faculty and staff. Call (805) 893-3318 to schedule an appointment. ASAP website: hr.ucsb.edu/hr-units/employee-services/asap
  • The UCSB Police Department’s CSO Safety Escort Program is a free service provided to members of the UCSB community as a safe alternative to walking alone at night. Call (805) 893-2000 to request a CSO escort. For more information: police.ucsb.edu/cso/cso-safety-escorts.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional details as they become available.

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