San Francisco

Man who started fire in Alamo Square Park may be serial Hayes Valley arsonist

On Wednesday, police arrested a man for setting two fires in Alamo Square Park, which caused damage to a restroom structure.

They also believe he may have been responsible for a series of intentionally set fires in SFPD's Northern District, with information connecting him to two February blazes in Hayes Valley. 

Just after midnight on Wednesday, police saw Mark Major, 54, igniting a fire outside a restroom building in Alamo Square Park. A plainclothes officer followed Major further into the park, where he spotted him in the process of igniting a second blaze. 

Major spotted the plainclothes officer and quickly walked away. The officer gave chase, and after a brief struggle, took him into custody with the help of a second officer. Officers also located and seized items used by Major to ignite the fires.

The first fire set by Major was extinguished by police, but caused damage to the restroom structure and to some nearby foliage.

At 5 a.m. Wednesday, Major was booked into the SF County Jail on felony charges of setting a structure on fire, willful and malicious setting fire by distributing combustible or flammable substances on a structure or forest land, and possession of flammable or combustible incendiary devices with the willful and malicious intent to set fire to a structure or forest land.

Police are investigating Major, a San Francisco resident, as a person of interest in at least two other fires, both involving vehicles. One took place on the 400 block of Hickory Street (between Laguna and Buchanan) on February 15; the other, on February 21, was at Linden and Laguna streets, on February 21. No one was injured in either incident, but the vehicles were both damaged. 

The case remains an open investigation, officials noted. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD 24-hour tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with "SFPD." You may remain anonymous.

Alamo Square, Steiner St

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