OCEAN BEACH, Calif. — Police say they’ve identified a man suspected of stealing a bag of equipment from a fire engine while firefighters battled flames at an Ocean Beach restaurant.
Crews were working to put out the fire at the Mother’s Saloon building on Bacon Street around 9:30 p.m. Friday when the theft happened. Authorities said a man got into a fire engine, grabbed a bag with more than $1,000 worth of equipment inside then rode off on a beach cruiser.
The San Diego Police Department posted photos of the suspect on social media Friday night before announcing he was identified Saturday. The department thanked the public for their tips and said the investigation continues.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Kelly Zombro said the fire appeared to have started in the attic area of Mother’s Saloon. The cause is still under investigation. No injuries were reported.
“It was so scary coming last night, seeing the whole place up in flames,” Sabrina Sutphin said. “I’m just sad, devastated.”
Sutphin said she and two friends own the building that used to be Mother’s Saloon. They finalized the sale last month for their new bar, called Northside Tavern.
“It’s every bartender’s dream to own a bar, us three just got lucky, three families coming together,” Sutphin said.
They’ve been renovating the interior themselves, eagerly waiting to expand past takeout once the regional stay-at-home order is lifted. Sutphin said that all changed when their dream went up in flames.
“It just really sucks,” she said. “I just don’t know where to start now. I feel like things just aren’t getting easier for us.”
Cleanup was underway Saturday as damages were estimated at $500,000. Fortunately, Sutphin said volunteers have been stopping by to help and a GoFundMe has already been set up.
She said the insurance adjuster estimated it could be up to a year before they open their doors again.