The cause of the fire March 3 at Cabo San Luis was determined to be arson last Friday. The San Luis Obispo Fire Department conducted an investigation and after examining the “relative damage and burn patterns” on the outside wall of the restaurant, the department concluded the fire was “human-caused.”
San Luis Obispo Fire Department Investigator John Madden said there have not been any leads as to who started the fire.
“In a fire, the physical evidence is burned up,” Madden said. “The chances of finding the person responsible for this fire is up in the air.”
Madden said he has sent 23 arsonists to jail in the last 20 years, a 100 percent conviction rate of the arsonists he has found.
The fire was started around 4 a.m. on Thursday. Firefighters spent hours putting out the flames and secured the site during the afternoon. A few minutes after the fire crews arrived on scene, part of the roof fell in on Cabo San Luis and a carbon dioxide tank exploded. The cause of the fire was unknown for two days until the fire department finished its investigation.
Arson is not an uncommon crime in San Luis Obispo.
In 2008, there were 28 arson cases reported and $201,850 in damages in San Luis Obispo. In 2009, there were 47 arson cases reported and $102,550 in damages.
In the United States, there were 475 deaths and 2,000 injuries as a result of arson last year. Arson also causes $1.4 billion dollars in property loss each year.
In addition to property damages, the costs to a business of arson also include the loss of business profits.
Madden said Cabo San Luis will not be reopened soon.
“It will be completely torn down to the deck material,” he said.
Cabo San Luis was not the only building that received damage. Kona’s Deli had structural damage to some of the roof supports.
“Kona’s was severely damaged; they won’t be reopening in the near future,” property manager Dan Rutledge said.
The fire also damaged Architects Corner, a new shop that was set to open its doors this week. Additionally, a few other vacant businesses received some damage.
SLO Textbooks and Rock & Roll Hair Salon reopened for business yesterday. Rutledge said the burned areas were fenced off, but the buildings and parking lots were open.
Megan Hassler contributed to this report.