Eureka Man Allegedly Sets House on Fire, Runs Naked in the Street



The press release from the Eureka Fire Department is pretty dry: Yesterday afternoon, it says, the EFD and Humboldt Number One Fire District responded to a structure fire on the 1100 block of J Street. They found one fire burning in the kitchen of the house and another in an upstairs bedroom. Both were quickly extinguished, and no one was hurt.

The only hint of intrigue comes in the last sentence: "The cause and circumstances of the fire remain under investigation, though it does not appear to be accidental in nature."

As you might expect, the neighbors have the juicy scuttlebutt.

In an e-mail chain forwarded to the Journal, nearby residents say the dude who lives there apparently set the fires himself -- and this wasn't the first time. Last week, they say, he set his garage on fire. And the day before that he'd been arrested for "dancing naked on his car in the front yard." He was found similarly sans attire yesterday, they say.

A call to EFD's Assistant Fire Chief Bill Gillespie confirmed many of these particulars. Sure enough, he said, there was a fire at the same location last week. And yesterday, the unidentified man was found starkers. Firefighters wrapped him up in a blanket and took him into custody, Gillespie said, though he couldn't reveal the man's identity or current location except to say he's not at the house tonight, so neighbors can rest easy for now.

The downstairs fire was evidently started on a wooden chair, and the upstairs fire was set on a mattress and bedding, Gillespie said. "We didn't see a lot of reason why those started where they did," the chief deadpanned. Until the investigation concludes, though, he can't go so far as to deem it arson.


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