The parklet outside the shuttered August 1 Five restaurant was ablaze early Saturday morning, and the fire department says the incident is "suspicious in nature."
Restaurant owners and diners are pretty much unanimous in their love of outdoor dining parklets, but these lovely structures do come with their own set of problems. They’re outdoors, so cars drive into them, trees fall on them, and neighboring businesses might bitch that you’re taking away those precious parking spots. And heck, someone might set your parklet on fire at roughly 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
That’s what happened this weekend at August 1 Five, according to SFGate. The celebrated upscale Indian cuisine spot closed in December, a victim of the eternal Van Ness construction project and a lack of foot traffic from all the nearby theaters being shuttered. So the parklet being abandoned and not being looked after at all may have been a contributing factor to the blaze.
And the fire department thinks something’s fishy. According to an SFGate review of the incident report, SFFD called the source of the blaze "suspicious in nature." They did not come out and use the word “arson,” but they did say they’re still investigating the cause.
Per that incident report, the one-alarm fire started at 2:36 a.m. Saturday morning, and SFFD had it out by 4:39 a.m. No one was injured. It’s not certain that the fire started at the parklet, as the Redwood Street apartment building also suffered fire damage. The owner and manager of that building both declined to comment to SFGate, so it’s unclear whether there’s any security footage.
Twitter commentary on the topic seems unanimously convinced that some homeless person is to blame for all this, but again, it’s not for sure the blaze started at the parklet. August 1 Five owner Hetal Shah did complain to Hoodline in September that “the growing homeless population in the Civic Center neighborhood deters San Francisco residents from walking around the neighborhood,” but as with the Valencia Room parklet vandalism, the initial knee-jerk assumptions are not always correct. But it does seem fair to assume that if parklets are a permanent part of the city’s outdoor landscape, we’ll be seeing many more incidents of a parklet falling victim to outdoor elements.
Image: @chipstevens via Twitter