City Heights neighbors of power couple Nathan Fletcher and Lorena Gonzalez reacted Wednesday to the early morning fire at the home of the re-elected county Board of Supervisors chairman and his recently resigned Assembly member wife.
No injuries were reported in a fire that forced the couple’s family to evacuate the home.
Fletcher, 45, tweeted that the home was saved, with damage confined to the front of the 1,291-square-foot house.
The Metro Arson Strike Team is investigating the blaze.
The fire apparently started around 4:30 a.m. in an outdoor trash can.
“It is very early in the investigation,” San Diego Police Department public-affairs Lt. Adam Sharki said Wednesday afternoon. “MAST is in the process of collecting evidence and locating witnesses. (The) fire is being treated as suspicious in nature.”
Though the multi-agency San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team was called in to investigate, SDFRD spokeswoman Monica Munoz declined to comment on news reports stating that authorities consider the origin of the blaze suspicious.
The fire, which damaged a parked car along with the facade of the home, caused an estimated $36,000 worth of monetary losses, Munoz said.
Fletcher made mention of his family emergency later Wednesday at the start of the Board of Supervisors meeting.
“I want to thank everyone for their thoughts,” he said. “My family is safe. We are all in a good position. At the end of the day, all that matters is a person’s family. In any event, let’s do our work for today.”
Gonzalez left the Assembly in January to take a leadership post with the California Labor Federation. She and Fletcher were married in January 2017.
A next-door neighbor, a five-year resident who declined to give his name, said police woke his family, and he saw sparks flying up. Soon he could see flames, and police told him to leave.
He heard an officer asking Gonzalez, 50, if people lived in his house.
He had no idea who could have set the fire or why.
“It’s a little bit creepy, yes,” said the man, who reported seeing the Fletchers exit a side door. He said the fire was doused in about 10 minutes.
According to real-estate records, the home on a quarter-acre lot was built in 1941, has four bedrooms and two baths and was last sold for $580,000 in April 2019. It’s in the Fox Canyon area of City Heights.
Another neighbor — several homes down — gave only her first name: Karyna.
“I just feel bad for them because, obviously, people are crazy and they’re targeting these people — because of their political views or whatever it might be.”
She said before the Fletcher home was refurbished, “that place was a disaster, like a crack house. All kinds of people lived in there. Like about 20 people, even more.”
She said a neighborhood “committee” forced the property owner to evict the inhabitants.
When the Fletchers came in, the house was beautifully redone, Karyna said. “They redid it really nice.”
Since the Fletchers’ arrival, Karyna says the neighborhood has been quieter.
“But I have seen a police officer parked on the corner, recording information at times,” she said. “I don’t know if somebody was over there messing with them. People are crazy — you know how people are. They get into their whole politicky thing.”
She said of the Fletcher house: “They’re cool. They’re quiet. I’m probably the loudest house on the street.” She laughed and added: “Has some ghosts in there.”
Police asked her about a security camera footage. And she said her cameras covered only her own property.
Her biggest gripe, though, is traffic on the residential street with a 25 or 30 mph speed limit.
“People drive up and down this street like it’s a freeway,” Karyna said. “And I don’t know why that is…. So if a police officer would just park his car right there, like around the corner, he would catch so many speeding tickets, it would be ridiculous.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
Updated at 2:55 p.m. Jan. 12, 2022