San Francisco Police begrudgingly acknowledged today that a car found engulfed in flames this morning could be the first flicker of another series of blazes similar to the ones that hit vehicles across the City last July.
Police say a total of 13 cars were deliberately set on fire during that one-month period and in the latest case, a sedan found in flames was also intentionally burned.
A 911 call brought both police and firefighters to the intersection of 33rd Avenue and Anza Street in the Richmond District at 5:10 a.m. Monday where a 2004 Toyota Carolla four door was on fire. The car’s windows were broken and it sustained significant smoke and fire damage.
SFPD spokesman Wilfred Williams would not confirm whether burned newspapers were also found at the scene, as they were at several of the July fires. In those incidents, newspapers were used as an accelerant.
Williams said some people were confused by the arson arrest the SFPD made this summer. The woman who was arrested was charged with setting fires to two commercial buildings and was not connected to the auto arsons.
"We were looking for the vehicle arson suspect and we were looking for this lady," Williams said. "We just happened to find her at the same time."
Williams said that, at this point, police haven’t been able to link her to spate of car fires. The arson task forces of both the San Francisco Police and the San Francisco Fire Departments are working together on these cases.
"We have no suspect information from today’s fire," said Williams. "We’re still looking into the string of them from before. Obviously, we would like to ask the public about those that happened in July and the one this morning."
Police say there are several circumstances that would cause a suspect to suddenly extinguish a string of crimes and then fire up again after some time has passed. Among them: the person behind the arsons could have felt that police "were hot on the trail suspect" and wanted things to cool down.
"Or the suspect may have been picked up and be in jail on another offense," Williams said.
Car fires, in general, are not unusual in the city, although many of them are intentionally set to stolen cars in order burn evidence and any trace of the suspects. Williams said that doesn’t apply in this series of crimes because these vehicles were not stolen and they were burned in the same spots in which the cars’ owners parked them.