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San Diego police, fire investigators search for suspected City Heights arsonist

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 15:00:46-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) is asking for the public’s help in finding a person accused of detonating a parked truck in City Heights early Tuesday morning.

Pierre Bonilla said what he and his surveillance cameras witnessed around 4:15 a.m. Monday was frightening.

"The vehicle was sparking. There was electrical. I just caught fire," Bonilla said.

As his daughter and fiancé slept just feet away, he said an arsonist made not one, but two attempts to blow up the truck parked right behind the alley on 4100 Highland Avenue in City Heights.

"He threw it [the object] in there, but it didn't catch. At that point, he walked over back down Orange Avenue,” according to Bonilla.

It was there that Bonilla said the arsonist walked right in the view of his other surveillance video camera, which caught a clearer shot of him. Twenty minutes later, around 4:40 a.m., the man came back and tried again.

This time it worked. Seconds later, he casually walked away.

MAST said this is one of a few recent suspicious fires they are looking into in the City Heights area. The two others happened on Menlo Avenue on March 5 and March 8, where a trashcan and a roof caught fire. No one was hurt.

Meanwhile, Mid-City fire stations have been notified to be on the lookout for the truck arsonist. They are also asking the public to see if they recognize the man, described as a Hispanic man, wearing a hat and distinct red sneakers.

Bonilla hopes he never has to experience such a close call again.

"My hope would be that the person gets caught," Bonilla said.

No one was hurt in the arson fire, but the vehicle and carport suffered severe damage.

If you have any information on any of the arson events, call the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department at 619-533-4300.