'Foul play was involved': San Francisco restaurant Baia temporarily closes after trash fire spread to building

Photo of Madeline Wells
Baia, a restaurant located at 300 Grove St. in San Francisco, was damaged in a fire on Monday.

Baia, a restaurant located at 300 Grove St. in San Francisco, was damaged in a fire on Monday.

James K. via Yelp

Baia, a plant-based Italian restaurant in San Francisco, has temporarily closed after a fire damaged the building early Monday morning.

“Our alarm company called us and said all these motion sensors were going off,” said a spokesperson for Baia, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retribution from whoever allegedly set the fire. “This man had lit our trash outside on fire, which then caught the trees next door on fire and burned the side door of our building. Firefighters broke down the front door and put the fire out.” 

Cleaners were inside the restaurant at the time of the fire, they said, but fortunately, no one was injured. San Francisco police told SFGATE that at 2:36 a.m. on Aug. 22, officers responded to an activated alarm at the restaurant, where the San Francisco Fire Department was extinguishing a fire.

“Investigators arrived on scene and determined that foul play was involved,” Officer Robert Rueca wrote in an email. There are no arrests or updates at this time. At this time this fire does not appear to be related to any recent fires.”

Baia, a restaurant located at 300 Grove St, San Francisco, was damaged in a fire on August 22, 2022.

Baia, a restaurant located at 300 Grove St, San Francisco, was damaged in a fire on August 22, 2022.

Courtesy of Baia
Baia, a restaurant located at 300 Grove St, San Francisco, was damaged in a fire on August 22, 2022.

Baia, a restaurant located at 300 Grove St, San Francisco, was damaged in a fire on August 22, 2022.

Courtesy of Baia
Damage of the restaurant can be seen after the fire on Monday. (Courtesy of Baia)
 

This was not the only fire to take place in the area that morning. San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jonathan Baxter confirmed to SFGATE that there were two separate fires on Monday at 300 Grove Street (Baia’s address) “involving trash,” as well as a fire in a dumpster at 333 Fulton on the same day. 

Baxter told Mission Local that there was a string of five dumpster and trash fires in SoMa and the Western Addition between Aug. 18 and 22, and that “it has the hallmarks of incendiary” (meaning arson). It is possible that some of the fires may have been ignited by the same person or people.

The Baia spokesperson also said the restaurant’s outdoor parklet was destroyed by a fire a few weeks ago. But the fire this week was even more catastrophic, as it caused extensive interior damage to the restaurant — $350,000 worth, according to Mission Local.

Baia will have to remain closed for the next 30 to 60 days, the Baia spokesperson said.

“We’re extremely devastated that this happened,” they said. “... I really hope the city can track down this gentleman who is doing this, or do something to mitigate this because it is devastating for local businesses. It’s hard enough for restaurants to stay open right now.”

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