Marina gas station owner believes Sept. 11 arson attempt was no coincidence 

click to enlarge A charred bench is all that remains of a botched arson attack at a Marina district boat-fuel dock last week. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMIINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiiner
  • A charred bench is all that remains of a botched arson attack at a Marina district boat-fuel dock last week.

The owner of a Marina district boat-fuel dock that was targeted in a failed arson attempt last week believes it was no coincidence that the incident occurred Sept. 11.

Just before 7 a.m. that morning, a suspect stacked a "pyramid of gas cans" on a bench near the Gashouse Cove office and set it ablaze, owner Christine Kaplan said. However, the attempt failed and she was left with only melted cans and a charred bench.

Kaplan, who was the first to arrive at the scene about 7:50 a.m., said her business could have exploded had the fire grown.

"If it was just one individual trying to make a big noise on 9/11, he wasn't successful," she said. "He was no Boy Scout."

Gashouse Cove at 10 Marina Blvd. sells fuel to boaters, including those involved with the America's Cup, the Coast Guard and the San Francisco Police Department's marine unit.

Responding police passed along video surveillance images of the suspect to multiple law enforcement agencies. On Thursday morning, 48-year-old San Francisco resident Andrew Glenn Rice was arrested on suspicion of arson and trespassing.

Police Sgt. Danielle Newman said there is no information to indicate this was a 9/11 memorial plot. The Police and Fire departments are not currently receiving investigatory assistance from state or federal agencies, Newman added.

Rice pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday and is being held on $100,000 bail. He is next expected to attend a preliminary hearing Sept. 27.

Kaplan, meanwhile, said she has never met Rice.

"There was no vendetta, no one who was angry with us," she said. "It's very disconcerting."

The suspect was in and out of the fuel station in six minutes, Kaplan added.

"On the plus side, our facility is under video surveillance all the time," she said. "This video surveillance was out very quickly, and all the agencies shared their information and they got him very fast. I think all of that is very positive."

Newman said the incident remains under investigation, and witnesses can contact the SFPD's arson unit at (415) 920-2933.

Rice is no stranger to the law. In June, he was charged with criminal trespassing in Downers Grove, Ill., which is 22 miles west of Chicago. According to local news outlets, he entered the back seat of a nursing student's car while she was parked. After she hollered at him to get out, he looked at his cellphone and told the woman his only intention was to make sure she was OK.

Rice reportedly then exited her vehicle and walked over to another parked car.

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