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Santa Maria woman charged in connection to Swiss Restaurant fire pleads not guilty

Santa Maria woman charged in connection to Swiss Restaurant fire pleads not guilty

A Santa Maria woman arrested in connection to a fire that damaged The Swiss Restaurant and injured a firefighter last week pleaded not guilty to arson charges on Monday.

Teresa Ann Ortiz, 45, was charged with two counts of arson, including arson causing great bodily injury, after appearing for an arraignment at Superior Court in Santa Maria, according to Deputy District Attorney Madison Whitmore. 

Additionally, Ortiz received two enhancements, including one for allegedly causing great bodily injury to emergency personnel and one for a prior felony conviction. 

Fire engines responded to reports of fire at the restaurant in the 500 block of North Broadway shortly before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Tony Clayburg, a Santa Maria Fire Department battalion chief.

The fire appeared to have started at the building's exterior before it spread to a storage room, causing smoke damage to the kitchen before it was extinguished by Santa Maria firefighters with the help of ventilation. Property damage is estimated to be $180,000. 

During the response, a firefighter received a minor burn injury and was treated on scene. The arson charge that includes great bodily injury was added in the alternative since the full extent of the injury is not yet known, according to Whitmore. 

Ortiz is scheduled for her next appearance on April 8 in Superior Court in Santa Maria. 

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The following is taken from the Lompoc Police Department's calls-for-service log and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office daily arrest log. Those appearing as "arrested" are only suspected of the crime indicated but are presumed innocent.

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The following is taken from the Santa Maria Police Department's calls-for-service log and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office daily arrest log. Those appearing as "arrested" are only suspected of the crime indicated but are presumed innocent.

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