Family-owned business loses fleet of minibuses in San Francisco fire

Last Sunday night, a fleet of tourist minibuses went up in flames in San Francisco, possibly at the hands of an arsonist.

Efforts are underway to help save the family-owned business that lost those vehicles just as peak tourist season begins.

Victims and eyewitnesses said the buses were in a fenced, but not well-secured, lot owned by the state under Interstate 280.

San Francisco Minibus was founded 45 years ago by married Filipino immigrants, now in their 80s, who fled martial law in their county to seek the American dream through decades of relentless hard work.

"It's very much a small business," said granddaughter Montsie Guerrero.

Guerrero and her brother Miguel Guerrero said aside from the near-total COVID shutdown, the alleged arson fire is just the latest in a series of recent crimes besetting her grandparents.

"We've encountered a lot of theft and vandalism on the buses. We've been a victim of the homeless situation, said Montsie.

"Catalytic converters being stolen. Those are like $3,000 a piece I think," said Miguel.


Dozen buses in San Francisco's Potrero Hill set on fire

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Some unhoused residents have allegedly been breaking into the minibuses, sleeping and cooking on them.

"What's happening right now in the city is really causing businesses to struggle and struggle to make ends meet and to run sustainable businesses," said Miguel Guerrero. The siblings said one bus was stolen and used to steal packages from homes in another town.

"It's really contributing to the death knell of the company," said Miguel.

Mario Guerrero, who manages the company, said that insurance will only pay for the depreciated value of the aging fleet, nowhere near what would be needed to replace them.

"And, you know how it is nowadays, the buses cost much more, especially with the high-interest rates," said Mario.

The landlord of the lot, the state of California, has yet to respond to the family.

"We're constantly repairing the cut fence. They just cut the other side. Fix a portion; they cut another side," said Mario.

They said one alleged trespasser threatened to burn the place down and an eyewitness told KTVU they saw a man throw a Molotov cocktail at the buses.

"A lot of our employees are afraid to go there," said Mario.

The grandchildren have set up a GoFundMe page for those who wish to donate to help the family out and help preserve the American dream upon which many employees depend.