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Man faces felony charges after starting fire in Amtrak lobby

He has been charged with arson and arson during a state of emergency, both felony charges
Amtrak Fire 10-22-21.jpg
Posted at 4:37 PM, Oct 22, 2021

On Thursday night, a man was arrested after reportedly starting a fire in the lobby of the Santa Barbara Amtrak station.

Lonniel Morgan, 63, a transient who had come to Santa Barbara via Amtrak train Thursday morning, started a fire in the lobby at about 9:20 p.m. on Oct. 21.

Santa Barbara Police officers received a call from an Amtrak employee about the fire. The employee described the Morgan to dispatchers.

Santa Barbara Police, Santa Barbara City Fire Department and Amtrak Police responded to the fire.

Officers say they noticed a strong smell of smoke coming from the lobby.

They found that Morgan had apparently used newspapers to start a fire in a decorative, non-operable fireplace in the Amtrak lobby.

A witness in the lobby said that Morgan had been standing in front of the fire and appeared to be warming himself.

Smoke began to billow from the fireplace and was filling the station, officials say. An Amtrak employee put out the flames with a fire extinguisher before the fire could spread.

Police placed Morgan under arrest. He was booked in Santa Barbara County jail on felony charges of arson and arson during a state of emergency.

His bail is set at $350,000.