Marine admits setting fire in Gaslamp restaurant

Austin Kokin

SAN DIEGO — A Marine who set a number of small fires in the back of a Gaslamp District restaurant last summer pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony arson charge.

Austin Kokin, 21, faces up to six years in state prison when he is sentenced March 5.

The blazes at Blue Point Coastal Cuisine at 565 Fifth Ave. near Market Street were reported around 1:45 a.m. last Aug. 29 and were quickly doused by the building’s sprinkler system, San Diego Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Monica Munoz said.

Investigators determined that the fires were started in the back of the restaurant, which was closed at the time. The arsonist came in through an open door and started vandalizing the restaurant before setting the blazes, she said. His motive was unclear.

The sprinkler system did not turn off right away and water accumulated in the basement of the business, causing an estimated $25,000 in damage, Munoz said.

Police identified the suspect as Kokin, a Marine Corps corporal, and he was arrested near the eatery.

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