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Another car torched in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights

A screenshot of the Nextdoor post by Katie Higgins detailing how her car was set on fire Tuesday night in Bernal Heights.
A Nextdoor post by Katie Higgins details how her car was set on fire Tuesday night in Bernal Heights. | Source: Screenshot from Nextdoor

Another car was set on fire Tuesday night in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood after a person lit a Christmas tree on fire before running away, according to surveillance video.

Firefighters responded shortly after 11 p.m. to the 700 block of San Jose Avenue, between 29th and Day streets, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.

When officers arrived at the scene, they described the damage as extensive to the vehicle, San Francisco police said.

Both police and the San Francisco Fire Department's Fire Investigation Task Force are investigating the incident, authorities confirmed. There is no information currently on a potential suspect.

READ MORE: Police Search for Suspect After 2 Cars Catch Fire in San Francisco Parking Lot

Katie Higgins, the owner of the vehicle, posted images of her scorched Volkswagen Tiguan and a short surveillance clip from one of her neighbors onto NextDoor. The video shows what appears to be a person lighting an abandoned Christmas tree on the sidewalk before fleeing on foot.

"SFPD towed the car to be investigated by their arson team," she said on the post.

Higgins, who told The Standard Wednesday she is traveling back to San Francisco from out of the country, said the neighbor who initially reported the fire called 911 four times before reaching dispatchers. She added she suspects that whoever set the fire used an accelerant since the tree was wet due to rainfall on Tuesday evening.

The fire is the second incident in the neighborhood after four cars were burned near the 300 block of Park Street, between Andover Street and Holly Park Circle, on New Year's Eve. Witnesses reported seeing people setting the cars on fire and then fleeing the scene.

Two days later, a suspected arsonist reportedly set two cars on fire on Jan. 2 inside a parking lot half a block from the Hall of Justice.

READ MORE: San Francisco E-Scooters Are Bursting Into Flames. Lawmakers Want Action

According to Higgins, she has been invited to join a Zoom conference next week along with those affected by the New Year's Eve fire to meet with the SFPD Ingleside station and District 9 Supervisor Hilary Ronen and discuss the situation in the neighborhood.

Trevor Chandler, who is running to represent Bernal Heights as the next District 9 supervisor, blasted the response by city leaders to the repeated arson incidents.

"While City Hall was patting itself on the back for wasting time on the Middle East, another arson struck Bernal Heights," Chandler said in a statement. "I am extremely troubled by reports that a resident had to call 911 four times before getting a response. This is completely unacceptable."

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management said they could not locate the 911 call records without the caller's number.

Joel Umanzor can be reached at jumanzor@sfstandard.com