SANTA BARBARA, CA – 10/29/2009 – California Highway Patrol officers in the area of Cabrillo Blvd. discovered an early morning fire near the base of Stearns Wharf. Assistance was requested from Santa Barbara City Fire and Harbor Patrol before CHP officers using portable extinguishers were able to control two small fires near the ticket kiosk. The initial report from CHP was at 0300 hrs. with Harbor Patrol and SB City Engine #1 responding to the wharf.
Fire crews were in the process of investigating the initial fires when smoke was observed coming from an area adjacent to the Harbor Restaurant and further east, near the wharf maintenance shed. At this time, a file response was requested to respond to the wharf which included Engines 2, 3, and 6, Truck 1, a Battalion Chief and a second harbor patrol boat.
Responding fire crews quickly contained the fires near both the restaurant and the shed, limiting further damage. A complete inspection of the wharf was conducted by harbor patrol, fire crews and City P.D. This inspection revealed multiple fires in various locations throughout the wharf deck area, which were quickly controlled by on scene crews. At this time there appears to be no structural damage to the wharf itself.
Due to the suspicious nature of these fires, a joint investigation is being conducted by City Fire Prevention Bureau, City Police Department and Harbor Patrol.
The wharf and Harbor Restaurant are currently open for business although Edison crews will be on scene working to repair equipment adjacent to one of the fire areas. A resulting power outage will affect some businesses until work is completed.
Stearns Wharf has been the scene of several historic blazes. The original Harbor Restaurant burned in 1973 and the Sea Center was the scene of a major fire in 1986. Most recently a catastrophic fire in 1998 resulted in the loss of several businesses, most notably Moby Dick Restaurant.
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