A fire that was ignited in a ravine below Hahn Student Services was the most recent in a series of fires on or near campus. The fire took place on Oct. 9 and was responded to at 2:40 p.m. UC Santa Cruz police Chief Nader Oweis said a Cal Fire investigator found that the fire was caused by arson.
Since the investigation is ongoing, the reason that the cause of this fire was ruled to be arson has not been released.
“Cal Fire investigated the area with the UCSC Police Department and they could not find any ignition sources in the area,” said Santa Cruz Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Venezio.
UCSC PD released a physical description of a person of interest leaving the area of the fire, who was seen by university employees. This description and sketch of the individual were sent to the community in an email on Oct. 15.
According to the community crime bulletin email, UCSC PD is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the person in the sketch in order to determine what involvement, if any, they had in the arson.
“We don’t know if this person of interest was truly involved or not, but they were in the area,” Oweis said.
This fire follows an Oct. 6 fire near College Eight and an Aug. 26 fire in a field near the west entrance of campus. It has not been determined whether either of the previous fires were set intentionally.
There is currently no evidence that the recent string of fires are linked.
“Right now we are investigating them as independent, but we would be remiss if we didn’t think of them as possibly linked in some way,” Oweis said.
Santa Cruz Fire Department battalion chief Mike Venezio said there are a variety of reasons people are motivated to commit arson.
“Some people do it for money, for insurance,” Venezio said. “In the wildland area some people do it for revenge. Some people do it because they enjoy watching fire.”
Students who see any fires or smoke should call 911 and report them immediately.