DA, Feds Fiddle While Fort Bragg Burns (Part 5)

In September of 1987 the Fort Bragg library was burned to the ground at the corner of Main and Laurel. The arson also destroyed the adjacent Ten Mile Justice Court. Just down the street, the torches burned down a third landmark — the Piedmont Hotel. The cocaine incendiaries had burned the library and the courthouse […]

Who Burned Fort Bragg & Why (Part 4)

Superior Janitorial’s distinctive red van was a familiar sight in late night Fort Bragg. Peter Durigan, Superior’s owner, went to work about midnight with his wife Irene, formerly Irene Specie. The two Durigans were assisted by a series of young people who helped the couple sweep, mop, scrub, and tidy up businesses as various as several restaurants and bars, both branches of the Savings Bank of Mendocino in Mendocino and Fort Bragg, and even the Pacific Bell Telephone facility in downtown Fort Bragg.

Willy Loman As Arsonist (Part 3)

Vince Sisco began his working life in Stockton where he and other members of his family ran bars and restaurants, most famously in the old Stockton Hotel. He enjoyed a certain success in the business early on and, by 1970 when he arrived in Mendocino County, Sisco was in his early 40’s. He soon earned a reputation for deals whose wheels came off.

Fort Bragg Burned In More Ways Than One (Part 2)

Affinito family roots run deep here in Pittsburg, not the east coast steel town, but Pittsburg, California, a sprawling Contra Costa County community where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers combine to become Suisun Bay, then San Pablo Bay, then San Francisco Bay. Pittsburg is no longer the sleepy, but prosperous, Italian-American farming and fishing […]

The Fort Bragg Fires (Part 1)

Early in the morning of September 20th, 1987, three brazen Fort Bragg arson fires destroyed the Ten Mile Justice Court, the adjacent Fort Bragg Library and, just down Main Street, the venerable Piedmont Hotel and restaurant. No one was ever prosecuted. And these three blazes, spectacular and as disheartening as they were, were only three in a series of arsons-for-profit that plagued Fort Bragg in the 1980s. We’re re-posting the five-part series on these unprecedented Mendocino County events as they appeared beginning in February of 1999. This first installment can be confusing; essentially, it describes the startling financial machinations, and related matters, orchestrated by a rogue loan officer employed by the Savings Bank of Mendocino in their Fort Bragg branch office.