Central Valley

Two arrested in Turlock restaurant arson

TURLOCK — Detectives on Wednesday afternoon arrested two men suspected of starting a fire that gutted The Red Steer Restaurant in late May.

Tracy Smith, 27, and Jeremy Britt, 23, both of Turlock, were arrested on suspicion of arson, said Turlock police Sgt. Nino Amirfar.

It was unclear if Smith is related to The Red Steer's owners, Scott and Lynette Soiseth.

In a story that appeared in The Bee on May 29, Scott Soiseth said he and his wife operated the restaurant with their son and daughter, Tracy Smith and Shae Smith.

Lynette Soiseth said she did not know whether Tracy Smith had been arrested.

"That's all news to me," she said Wednesday, declining to comment further. Scott Soiseth did not return a call Wednesday evening.

Asked if the Soiseths and the Tracy Smith arrested were related, Amirfar said he did not know. He declined to comment further about the case, referring questions to the Stanislaus County district attorney's office.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Alan Cassidy said he did not know if the Soiseths had any relation to either of the men arrested.

The fire occurred at 4:15 a.m May 28. It took firefighters about two hours to bring it under control.

Fire Battalion Chief Gary Lunsford estimated damage to the restaurant at $1 million. The fire destroyed the restaurant's roof and interior.

The Red Steer, on Golden State Boulevard near Main Street, drew a loyal crowd for its roast beef, tri tip and pastrami sandwiches.

Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Sharon Silva, whose office is next to the Red Steer, said the restaurant had been around for about 40 years.

Police ask anyone with information about this crime to contact Detective Jason Tosta at 668-5550, ext. 6654, or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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