ISLA VISTA, Calif. - Warnings have gone out in Isla Vista about the consequences of intentionally set fires, especially for residents who burn furniture as they leave for the summer.
Santa Barbara County Fire Captain David Sadecki says students can face serious penalties including jail time, fines and even find themselves listed as a "registered arsonist," depending on their offense.
"If you do light a fire and we catch you you will be held liable for it," said Sadecki. The District Attorney's office has a special arson team to handle these cases.
Many residents, who are mainly UC Santa Barbara students say they see couch fires throughout the year, but they increase as students move out. One resident saw three on his street recently. Damage can be seen on the asphalt where furniture burned.
"I think it could definitely be dangerous,"said resident Henry Jones. "And I think with the fumes it releases it could be pretty toxic. Kids jump over it and stuff and think it's funny. It could turn bad real fast I think."
Some residents know who may be responsible but, "if anyone asks, it's the guy next door. It's not you, "said Hank Dorsey.
Sadecki says calls for what are sometimes referred to as "nuisance" fires, "takes us away from the job we need to do. It takes us away from other calls for help."
How often does it happen? Student Crystal Powell said, "just park out here on the weekend and you will see it."