General Crime

* Two Plead Not Guilty To Arson Charges For Four-Alarm Fire Last Week

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A man and woman pleaded not guilty to arson charges on Friday in connection with a fire that burned four homes in San Francisco’s Silver Terrace neighborhood last week, prosecutors said today. The four-alarm blaze, which was reported at about 3 a.m. last Tuesday on Boutwell Street near Bayshore Boulevard, caused nearly $1 million in damage before firefighters extinguished it at 4:51 a.m.

Police arrested Ronald Weeks, 55, and Erin Kennedy, 48, on suspicion of arson of an inhabited structure, with a special allegation of causing multiple structures to burn, district attorney’s office spokesman Alex Bastian said today. Weeks and Kennedy pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday. They are each being held in lieu of $200,000 bail and will return to court on July 18 for a preliminary hearing, Bastian said.

The two were apparently squatting at 170 Boutwell St., which had been abandoned after another fire gutted the home almost exactly three years earlier, on July 4, 2009. Investigators said that fire was caused by
fireworks. Neighbors said a group of squatters had moved into the home shortly after the first fire.

A complaint was filed with the city’s Department of Building Inspection in September 2009, and the home’s owner, John J. Noonan, could face litigation from the city attorney’s office for not complying with an ordinance requiring the registration and securing of vacant or abandoned buildings. The official cause of Tuesday’s fire remains under investigation, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

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