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Police say transient starts fire at South Coast train station when he uses non-operational fireplace

City of Santa Barbara Photo
Police say a transient stuffed newspapers into a non-operational fireplace at Santa Barbara's Amtrak station, and started a fire which forced the building evacuation.

Blaze fills waiting area of Santa Barbara's Amtrak station with smoke

Police say they arrested a transient after the man stuffed newspapers into the non-functioning fireplace in the lobby of Santa Barbara’s Amtrak station, and started a fire which filled the building with smoke.

It happened just after nine Thursday night. The fireplace is in the train station’s waiting area, but is only decorative. After the man started the fire, witnesses say he stood in front of the fireplace, and appeared to be trying to warm himself.

People evacuated the building because of the smoke. An Amtrak employee grabbed a fire extinguisher and knocked down the blaze before firefighters reached the scene.

Investigators say Lonniel Morgan was arrested on two counts of arson. They say the 63-year-old man had arrived in Santa Barbara on another Amtrak train earlier in the day.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.