Arson suspect arrested after bizarre struggle beside burning palm tree

SAN DIEGO — A possible arson suspect was taken into custody this morning following a bizarre scuffle near a small roadside brush fire in Golden Hill, authorities said.

Officials received a call that a palm tree was ablaze at about 4:45 a.m. just off the B Street offramp from northbound Interstate 5, according to the California Highway Patrol and San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

When fire crews and CHP officers arrived, they found two men struggling near the fire. One man had gained control over the other and pinned him to the ground in a head-lock maneuver.

Authorities arrested one of the men after reports that he had been stoking the fire.

“He said he was trying to help put it out,” CHP Officer Tommy Doerr said. “But witnesses said he was contributing to it. Officers took him into custody, but it’s still under investigation.”

Firefighters quickly doused the small brush fire, which burned a 20- by 20-foot area of brush and caused no injuries or damage to anything besides vegetation, SDFD spokeswoman Monica Munoz said.

Investigators from the fire department’s Metro Arson Strike Team were on scene for several hours probing the cause of the blaze and the possible involvement of the detained suspect.