Three Seattle police cars and an RV that's used as a mobile precinct were torched early Thursday in a city maintenance yard, according to police.

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Three Seattle police cars and an RV that’s used as a mobile precinct were torched early Thursday in a city maintenance yard, according to police.

Just before 5 a.m., city workers spotted a suspicious-looking man walking through a parking lot at 714 S. Charles St., where police, fire and other city vehicles awaiting maintenance work are stored, said police spokesman Detective Jeff Kappel.

The workers tried to talk to the man, and “just about that time, police cars started going up in flames and he took off running,” Kappel said. The workers called 911 at 4:53 a.m. and firefighters quickly doused the flames, he said.

“There were police vehicles deliberately set on fire,” said Kappel, who couldn’t say if reports of an explosion were accurate. “Only police vehicles were burned,” even though vehicles from a variety of city departments are stored there.

Kappel also couldn’t say whether the vehicles were a total loss. No damage estimate has been released.

Kappel said the Seattle Police Department hadn’t received any threats before the fires, which also slightly damaged a nearby building.

The fire was so intense that it set off sprinklers inside the maintenance garage, which sustained smoke and water damage, said Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick. She said the damaged police vehicles were outside the garage but behind a security fence.

Police have only a vague description of the suspect: The man is 6 feet tall with a slim build, was wearing dark clothing and possibly carrying a backpack, Kappel said.

KING-TV reported that a Seattle Police Department bulletin about the fire cited the name of a 15-year-old girl beaten by King County sheriff’s deputies in a holding cell last November. The beating was caught on surveillance tape.

One of the two deputies, Paul Schene, who faces a fourth-degree assault charge, was fired by Sheriff Sue Rahr last month. The other deputy, Travis Brunner, a rookie who was training with Schene and held the girl down as Schene hit her, received a five-day suspension without pay, according to a sheriff’s spokesman.

Thursday was the 14th annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. The local chapter of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality sent out a news release on Oct. 9 that mentioned the incident involving Schene and Brunner.

It also mentioned Christopher Harris, an Edmonds man who suffered brain damage after he was tackled by a sheriff’s deputy and crashed his head into a concrete wall in May.

A local rally and march through Pioneer Square and downtown Seattle was held to mark the day.