Arson Suspected at Unlicensed Dispensary


Fire broke out before dawn in an Arcata residential neighborhood Monday, and firemen responded to discover the burning home was really a medical marijuana dispensary with a growing operation. And, they believe it was intentionally set ablaze.

Arcata Fire District Battalion Chief Sean Campbell said a call came into the department at about 5:15 a.m. reporting the blaze and a truck was on scene within minutes. Campbell said firefighters thought the home was a residence and were concerned people might be inside until they made entry and discovered the house was operating as a dispensary.

Fire investigators discovered two points of origin, Campbell said, each in a separate room, leading them to believe the fire was an act of arson.

Arcata Police Sgt. Todd Dokweiler said police arrived on scene to find the back door of the dispensary ajar, but said it’s unclear if someone may have forced entry or if anything was stolen from the dispensary.

The dispensary is owned by Stephen Gasparas, an infamous figure in Arcata, and was operating without a license from the city. To read more about Gasparas and his long history of tangles with city officials, police, prosecutors, landlords and others, check out Kevin Hoover’s extensive coverage. Be doubly sure to check out a couple epic pieces here and here.

Anyone with information about Monday morning's fire is asked to call APD at 822-2428.

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