Rainbow Rumpus: Flaming Porta Potties. Getting Ready for the Holidays.

There’s nothing quite like the jolly warmth of a well-lit fireplace on a cold winter night. For obvious reasons, the orange melting plastic mess that is a porta potty ablaze on the sidewalk can’t really compare.


On December 7, 2013, at about 9: 40 pm, I was on my way to pick up my little brother from his piano lesson. The piano studio is located on Noriega Street, right across from a certain abandoned lot. In front of the studio was an orange Porta Potty, which was absolutely fine and totally not on fire when I walked past it. I went inside the studio, waited for my brother to gather up his music books and bid the teacher farewell before we stepped outside again. I was in there for a minute or so.

When we emerged from the studio, the orange Porta Potty had become a column of flame. I thought it was a joke or a hallucination or something. I am so, so, so terrified of fire, and flaming Porta Potties are no exception. After being frozen with shock, my brain activated the “Gotta Go Fast!” chemical that tells a body to get the hell away from there, and I got the hell away from there. If there is a world record for Getting the Hell Away from Somewhere, I think we broke that record.

Seriously, what? Porta potties don’t spontaneously combust like that. Maybe there was something flammable inside and a carelessly dropped cigarette did the trick. Or maybe somebody thought arson would be fun to try. But that begs the question, why would anybody set a Porta Potty on fire? For shits and giggles?

Fun fact: in 2008, San Francisco authorities were confounded by a series of Porta Potty arsons that resulted in $12,000 in damages. If the incident I witnessed wasn’t an accident, perhaps some pyromaniac out there decided to bring the 2008 toilet burnings back for the holidays.

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