Arsonist strikes three times within minutes in Pacific Beach - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Arsonist strikes three times within minutes in Pacific Beach

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Residents in Pacific Beach are on alert after a series of overnight fires. Police say the fires were set, and in each case, the suspect lit the flames and disappeared.

The suspect went on an arson spree, setting fires at three locations in the same neighborhood just minutes apart. The suspect starting igniting the fires around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The first target was a speed boat at the intersection of Thomas Avenue and Haines Street. The arsonist set fire to the cover of the boat, which was next to a home, causing about $5,000 in damage.

Boat owner Joel Purma, a 14-year firefighting veteran, shared his reaction with CBS News 8.

"It's kind of ironic that this is happening to me, but it did, and now I've got a good story to take back to the station," Purma said.

A couple blocks away another fire started inside an SUV with the windows rolled down. That incident happened at the 4200 block of Gresham Street.

Moments later, it happened again. This time a fire was started on the windshield wiper of a car. Police believe an accelerant was used along with paper.

Police don't have a description of the suspect yet. They also warn Pacific Beach residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. No injuries were reported.

San Diego Police Department Lt. Kevin Mayer told CBS News 8 the suspect is facing felony vandalism charges.

"Who knows what could be the outcome of a fire. It could be the explosion of a car, innocent people being hurt if somebody had been in the vehicle," SDPD Lt. Kevin Mayer said.

In response, police are beefing up their presence in the area while the suspect remains on the loose. It's something Pacific Beach resident Derrick Francis says is welcome.

"Patrol a little bit more, and not just focus on Grand and Garnet, because they come into these streets and see these nice areas and vandalize them, Francis said.

Anyone with information in this case is asked to call the San Diego Police Department.

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