Residents in apartment buildings behind the Boulevard Café in Daly City are "scared" after recent suspicious activity, which prompted a letter from the property manager warning them to be on the lookout.
Fire officials investigating the two fires in the 75 Poncetta building, just off of John Daly Boulevard west of Interstate 280, have deemed only one — a car fire that totaled a convertible in the garage and left the side of the building charred in one spot — to be suspicious.
Residents said the fires and alleged tire-slashings in the area were part of "weird" activity over the last six months that has created community anxiety.
More recently, on Feb. 3 at 3:15 a.m., a car was burned in the one-level garage underneath the building, which houses more than 100 apartments.
"It’s suspicious — there’s no natural cause to it," Daly City Deputy Fire Chief Steve Brandvold said. "We don’t have any kind of motive or suspect."
Someone flipping a cigarette butt into a pile of trash most likely caused a separate fire in the stairwell two weeks ago, Brandvold said. In July, another pile of garbage — stacked up due to a labor dispute that was resolved the day before — caught on fire in the garage, likely from a cigarette.
After the Feb. 3 car fire, William Choutka, general manager for Westlake Village Apartments, sent a letter to residents notifying them of the "suspicious fires" at the building.
"Although no one was hurt, we are taking this opportunity to ask that everyone keep your eyes and ears open and report any suspicious activity right away," Choutka wrote in the letter.
In a separate interview, Choutka said there were no clues about any connections between the incidents.
"The residents’ eyes and ears will be the best deterrent," Choutka said.
Maria Ving, who has lived next door to the building for the last three years and received Choutka’s letter, said she was anxious about leaving her car in the garage because "you never can tell."
"For the past six months, it’s been weird," she said, noting that her friend’s tires were slashed. Other residents who wished not be named said they, too, were anxious and had their tires slashed, but Daly City police had no reports of such activity.
Choutka wouldn’t comment on the reports of multiple tire-slashings at the building but to say such activity happens everywhere in the city.
"I have to be a little bit scared. It’s supposed to be a safe place," Ving said.