SAN DIEGO — Police are investigating a “suspicious” fire that damaged the home of Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and former state lawmaker Lorena Gonzalez.
The fire was reported early Wednesday at the house near Euclid Avenue, south of University Avenue in City Heights. It belongs to the family of Gonzalez and Fletcher, who could be seen speaking to police and firefighters outside.
Neighbors called 911 just before 4:30 a.m. to say the home appeared to be starting on fire, according to San Diego Police Lt. Christian Sharp. “The house did look like it was on fire, at least at the front,” Sharp said.
When officers showed up, they rushed to a back door and knocked to make sure that the family evacuated safely, Sharp continued. Firefighters arrived to extinguish the flames, which were concentrated at the front of the house. Most of the damage was to the outside of the home, though there may have been some interior damage as well, Sharp said.
Authorities are now investigating the “suspicious nature” of the fire. Sharp said there was a lack of obvious material that could have ignited outside the house and also cited the “time of the day.” Sharp said arson investigators will try to determine exactly what sparked the blaze.
No one was hurt.
“Our family is safe and for us, that is all that matters,” Fletcher said in a written statement. “We are grateful for the quick response of the San Diego Fire and Police Department.”
“We were woken up by our smoke alarms,” Fletcher continued. “The front of our house was engulfed in flames, but we were able to safely evacuate out another door.”
Fletcher and Gonzalez are each influential forces in California politics, with Fletcher often serving as the face of San Diego County’s efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic. He was unanimously re-elected as chairman of the powerful board on Tuesday.
Gonzalez recently resigned from representing California’s 80th Assembly District for a leadership position with the California Labor Federation. Supporting unions was a key focus of her legislative career.
The emotional couple emerged from their home to speak to reporters later Wednesday morning.
“We joke, we’re going to start 2022, it’s going start off better than 2021 — but we’ll just say, tomorrow it’s going to start off better,” Fletcher said, smiling. “It’s going to be fine. We’re good, we’re healthy. Everyone’s safe. And the rest of it doesn’t really matter.”
The county leader also praised the first responders who came to their home.
“We had firefighters here, like, immediately. We had police officers, again, literally as we’re going out one door, they’re kicking in another one, and we really appreciate and value them,” Fletcher said.
A fire department spokesperson estimated the damage caused by the blaze at about $36,000, with $6,000 coming from a damaged car and the rest to the home.