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Arsonist repeatedly sets fire to Stern Grove

The most likely suspects appear to be people with absolutely nothing worthwhile to do

If you see red when people trash Dolores Park, do yourself a favor and stay away from Stern Grove. Lately, some profoundly unloved person has taken to sneaking in and setting fire to the Stern Grove Festival’s facilities in the middle of the night.

Three times in the last week, Hoodline reports that Grove staff showed up in the morning to find one of the festival’s distinctive green benches and tables had been torched in the wee hours. One of them was so thoroughly destroyed that only ashes remain.

Judging from the scattered beer cans in the photos, it seems the culprits are sneaking in to party and feel that the furniture makes handy firewood, apparently also using piled hay to get the blaze going. The miniature American flags left behind suggest that they’re in a patriotic mood about it, too.

Anne Abrams, spokesperson for the festival, points out that the fires have all happened on non-concert days. While neighborhood no-goods sometimes vandalize the park and concert goers on occasion leave behind an inconsiderate mess, midnight fireballs are decidedly not usual summer fare.

(Abrams also offers a small correction for the Hoodline story: The tables are not really "custom-built" for the grove. But that’s beside the point, because even if they were twelve for a dollar and you could buy them at every taco truck, they’re still not kindling.)

Stern Grove is 33 acres, and the eucalyptus trees there are the descendants of seeds shipped to San Francisco by an Australian bishop in 1871. The land’s earliest owners planted Holland grass to help convert what was once a sandy desert into a lush oasis.

All of which is now endangered by drunken yahoos lighting private fires during a drought year.