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San Diego police arrest suspect in series of overnight fires

San Diego police arrest suspect in series of overnight fires
A car was burned in Ocean Beach in a series of 12 blazes late Thursday and early Friday. (Courtesy of Garrett Natalina)

A 26-year-old man was behind bars Friday on suspicion of setting a dozen fires overnight on streets and in alleys around Ocean Beach.

Michael Alexander Barringer, 26, was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of arson in the series of blazes that destroyed at least six vehicles, several large trash cans, a fence and other items, San Diego Police Sgt. Rick Pechin said.

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Records showed Barringer was booked into the San Diego Central Jail. No information was available about the charges he might face, although Pechin said Barringer was “arrested for the arsons in all 12 cases.”

Firefighters responded to reports of the first blaze around 11 p.m. Thursday, according to police and fire officials. In total, the blazes caused roughly $23,000 in damage, but no injuries were reported.

Investigators from the San Diego Police Department’s metro arson strike team detained Barringer in an alley near the beach, Pechin said.

“Evidence linking Barringer to the arsons was recovered,” he said in a statement.

The string of overnight fires was not the first to plague Ocean Beach in recent months. From December 2017 to January of this year, roughly 10 small fires were set on streets and in alleys. At a mid-January town hall hosted by the Ocean Beach Town Council, fire and police officials said arson was the suspected cause.

Pechin told the San Diego Union-Tribune that investigators are looking into whether the overnight blazes Thursday and Friday were linked in any way to the arson cases from December and January.

“However, at this time we have no evidence to suggest they are related,” Pechin wrote in an email. “It appears that this was just a random arson spree from last night and not connected to any other fires in that area that we are aware of.”

All of the arson-suspected fires in Ocean Beach remain under investigation, the sergeant said.

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