Man sets Christmas tree on fire in Santa Maria police station

Steven Minami

An allegedly distraught and intoxicated man ignited a blaze inside the Santa Maria Police Department early Sunday morning by lighting the station’s Christmas tree on fire.

Shortly before 4 a.m., Steven Minami, 23, of Guadalupe arrived at the police station and called into the communications center saying he was paranoid and believed someone hacked into his computer, a police department press release states. Officers were then dispatched to the front lobby to check on Minami, but when they did not arrive quickly enough for his liking, the Guadalupe man grabbed the police department’s Christmas tree, placed it on top of several chairs and set the tree on fire.

The police department’s sprinkler system activated and quickly extinguished the fire. But, the blaze filled the front of the building with a large amount of smoke.

Officers immediately found Minami in front of the police department and arrested him.

Some walls and flooring inside the police department sustained water and smoke damage. Police are still assessing the total damage.

Officers booked Minami in Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felony arson, vandalism and public intoxication. Minami’s bail was set at $250,000.