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Calif. woman accused of arson in blaze that injured firefighter

Police allege Teresa Ortiz, 45, was caught on surveillance footage and the scene of the fire

santa maria police suspect arson fire

Teresa Ortiz, 45, is accused of setting the fire at a restaurant that injured a firefighter on Wednesday.

Photo/Santa Maria Police Department

Lompoc Record, Calif.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — A Santa Maria woman was arrested on suspicion of arson Thursday in connection to a fire that damaged a portion of The Swiss Restaurant and resulted in a minor injury to a firefighter early Wednesday morning.

Police officers reviewed surveillance video footage from the restaurant fire and recognized Teresa Ortiz, 45, from an encounter on Broadway that occurred last week, according to Santa Maria Police Lt. Russ Mengel.

Officers located Ortiz in the 1700 block of South Broadway shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday. She was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of arson, causing injury. She also had several out-of-county warrants. Her bail was set at $250,000.

Fire engines responded to reports of fire at the restaurant in the 500 block of North Broadway around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Tony Clayburg, a Santa Maria Fire Department battalion chief.

The fire appeared to have started at the building’s exterior before it spread to a rear storage room, causing smoke damage throughout the kitchen, according to Clayburg.

Crews quickly extinguished the fire by using ventilation to keep the blaze from extending beyond the kitchen, he said. Damage to the property was estimated at $180,000.

A firefighter sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene. No other injuries were reported.


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