Suspicious Fire at the Muck Causes Major Damage [Updated with Arrest]
[Original Post: Monday, May 5. 7 a.m.] Apparently someone out there has a burning desire to fuck with the Muck. A fire was set at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center outdoor amphitheater in Fullerton on Monday, resulting in major damages and loss of historic property. The incident is under investigation.
Muckenthaler Center's Facebook A view of yesterday's damage
This is actually the 7th suspicious fire at the Muck in the last month, according to Fullerton Battalion Chief John Stokes. Damages from the blaze include the loss of a newly refurbished Yamaha piano-- original to the Muckenthaler family ($12,000 value), burned theater curtains, $1,500 worth of damages to the stage dance floor, and over $5,000 in damages to a donated passenger van that was used to transport art supplies. The fire caused approximately $25,000 in damage, according to a statement released by the center yesterday evening.
See update on apprehended suspect after the jump
The suspected arsonist attacks are primarily targeted at the stage area, which is more remote in comparison to the main part of the house and park area. Recently installed cameras put up after the last set of fires reveal a suspect on video-- a white or Hispanic female with a red T-shirt, jeans, baseball cap on backwards and white backpack.
It's hard to say what the motive could be at this point. A disgruntled actor? A bored firebug? Someone with a deep-seated hatred for community theater? Previous attacks have led to fires in garden carts, trash cans, props and scenery store behind the stage, a passenger van and now the piano storage shed. The Muck is asking that if you have any information please alert the police.
[Update: Thursday May 8, 2:30 p.m.]
Police arrested a 29-year-old Buena Park woman suspected of setting the most recent Muck fire. Gabriela Gomez was scheduled to be arraigned today on a charge of arson, City New Service reports. Gomez is also charged with one felony count of arson of property, according to court records.
There have been seven fires at the cultural center since January, says Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart. So far, Gomez is just a suspect in the most recent blaze on Monday in the center's storage facility, Stuart said. A grand piano and other items worth more than $15,000 were torched in that blaze, Stuart added.
Police linked Gomez to that arson through surveillance video, Stuart said. One blaze was on March 30 and another one happened on April 26, according to Fullerton police Cpl. Tim Kandler. In the April 26 incident, the undercarriage of a GMC van was burnt and the March 30 fire was in a trash can, Kandler said.