San Diego, California – Gossip Grill, a queer women’s bar in San Diego, was targeted by an arsonist at about 12:30 a.m. Friday, October 20th,, according to a post on social media. By about 1:45 that afternoon, according to NBC 7, police had a suspect in custody. NBC 7 reports that police found the suspect, 38-year-old Ryan Habrel, near the scene Friday afternoon and arrested him on charges of arson to a commercial structure and the use of an accelerant. Police said the investigation is ongoing but that there is no indication so far that the fire was a hate crime.
A social media post by owner Moe Girton indicated that someone had set “both front patios” on fire at the bar, but the NBC 7 reports said San Diego firefighters “arrived and found an awning in the back of the bar on fire and knocked it down by 12:39 a.m. “Everyone is OK and damage was contained to the front patios. We do have cameras and are working with [San Diego police] to find out who lit our queer home on fire,” Girton’s social media post continued. “Gossip Grill is one of the last remaining queer women’s bars in the country. It breaks my heart knowing that someone intentionally tried to burn it down.” The post ends with “a huge THANK YOU to our fire department for saving our home.”
NBC 7 said damage to the business was estimated at $10,000. Girton told NBC 7 that SDFD initially thought the blaze was an electrical fire but she thought that was strange because the two patios are not connected and the power was off. Girton said the bar had closed for the evening, but two employees were inside getting ready to leave when the fire started. “Very lucky that everything is fire resistant,” Girton told NBC 7. “The fire department was here super quick. Security from Rich’s came over to help. Everyone just kind of jumped in.” According to an NBC 7 report from July, Gossip Grill, which first opened in 2009, is the only queer women’s bar in San Diego. It is one of only two in California and of only 21 in the country. (Dallas Voice – Tammye Nash at Dallasvoice.com/san-diego-lesbian-bar-targeted-by-arsonist)
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