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Friday, November 13, 2009

Has Outhouse Arsonist Returned? Another S.F. John Goes Up in Flames.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 7:15 AM

click to enlarge burning_outhouse.jpg
In the most unwelcome comeback since, say, Bon Jovi, the person or persons lighting porta-johns ablaze may have made a return. More than two dozen porta-johns were burned into malodorous puddles of plastic in a crime wave that garnered national -- and even international -- coverage in 2008 and early '09. A toilet cleaning product company even tried to cash in on the crimewave. And now it may be starting again, with an outhouse going up at 1818 Broadway at just before 1 a.m. this morning.

The great porta-john arson wave of 2008-09 was largely focused on the Russian Hill area, but the arsonist -- or a copycat -- branched out to Potrero Hill and other city locales (though outhouse arson No. 21 was on the 2000 block of Broadway, just a short walk from this fire). San Francisco authorities didn't help their cause when, at some point, someone let it slip that torching an outhouse is not exactly a Herculean feat.

While the notion of burning outhouses may come off as extreme bathroom humor, the companies renting out porta-johns aren't laughing. One of them told SF Weekly that they lose $750 each time a restroom bursts into flames, while San Francisco police worry a toilet fire will eventually spread to a home or car, and someone could get hurt.

Whether this is a one-off or the return of the nights of flaming johns

is uncertain. Only time -- and flaming outhouses -- will tell.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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