Santa Maria, CA – Sprinkler system halts blaze after man sets fire to police department Christmas tree

A 23-year-old Guadalupe man was arrested when he allegedly set a Santa Maria Police Department Christmas tree on fire in their own lobby.

Santa Maria police say Steven Minami, 23, contacted police to report he was paranoid and believed someone had hacked into his computer.

The Santa Maria Police Department provided the following narrative on what happened next:

When Officers did not respond as quickly as Minami wanted, he grabbed a Department decorated Christmas tree and placed it on top of some chairs. Minami then lit the tree on fire, which caused the building’s fire protection sprinkler system to activate.

The emergency sprinkler system performed properly and quickly extinguished the fire; however, a large amount of smoke filled the front of the building. Minami was immediately located in front of the Department and arrested.

A part of the police department’s interior walls and flooring received water and smoke damage.

Minami was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felony arson, vandalism, and public intoxication. His bail was set at $250,000.

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