Six fires — two large — that made headlines on Friday evening were not isolated incidents. A serial arsonist appears to be at work, with more than a dozen fires lit in Golden Gate Park in the past few weeks alone.
On Friday two of the fires that were lit could be seen from the avenues, as flames and smoke rose high into the sky. One occurred near the west end of the Polo Fields, and another nearby at the Angler Casting Ponds.
Fire in Golden Gate Park on west end of Polo Fields pic.twitter.com/JxeW6QpgnJ
— Mike Billings (@mbillings) November 10, 2018
The next day, the San Francisco Fire Department confirmed that they’d responded to a total of six fires in the park that night, ranging from one foot wide to one acre.
But Friday night’s rush of incidents isn’t isolated; a slew of fires was reported by SFPD last month. On Saturday, Oct. 6 someone passing through the park discovered a small fire near Mother’s Playground shortly before 11 p.m. Both the San Francisco Fire Department and the San Francisco Police Department responded to the scene and put it out.
The following morning shortly before 6 a.m. officers received a call about a trash fire near the Rose Garden, off JFK Drive. The Fire Department extinguished the fire. Less than an hour later, a jogger spotted a fire off MLK Jr. Drive and notified a park ranger. The Fire Department came out once again and put it out. Remnants of a third fire near Stow Lake, just above Mother’s Playground where the first occurred, was discovered at 7:40 a.m. that same Sunday.
And on Oct. 9, sometime between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., someone filled a trash can near Stow Lake with brush, leaned two cut trees against it, and lit the whole thing on fire.
It’s unclear if the Golden Gate Park Golf Course clubhouse, which was destroyed in a fire earlier this summer, also burned down due to arson. But, it’s not the first time arson has taken place in the park; a section of the popular Koret Playground was torched in June 2017, with repair costs coming in at $388,000.
A representative from the Recreation and Parks Department tells SF Weekly that vandalism cost the Recreation and Parks Department $601,792.89 in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.