Sacramento fire officials say two of four structure fires that broke out within a seven-hour span Thursday in the east Sacramento and Mansion Flats neighborhoods were suspicious, based on evidence investigators have found at the scenes.
The cause of the fourth and largest fire in the series, in a commercial building in the 1400 block of E Street, has not been determined, but Deputy Chief Lloyd Ogan said investigators so far have found nothing suspicious in that fire. Ogan said he expects the cause of the blaze will be known within a few days.
The unusually busy day for Sacramento firefighters began with three blazes that scorched three homes in East Sacramento. The first fire, at 11:41 a.m., hit a single family home at 424 33rd Street. The fire was contained to a bedroom. Smoke destroyed contents throughout the home.
At 12:22 p.m., a fire at a single-family home at 1205 49th St. was contained to bedroom. Smoke damage was reported throughout the home. The third fire occurred at 1:21 p.m. at a single family home at 3930 N St.. The fire was contained to a back bedroom. Smoke damaged contents in the home.
During a Friday afternoon news conference, Ogan said he did not know which two of the three fires were suspicious and declined to discuss the evidence.
The house fires occurred within a short time span and shared a close geographic area. Those fires started in back bedrooms and occurred at homes on an alley, Assistant Chief Niko King said previously.
The day’s most damaging fire was called in at 6:39 p.m. when fire raced through the Sacramento Theatrical Lighting Annex at 1414 E St. in Mansion Flats. The building is also on an alley.
Although firefighters arrived on the scene within minutes, the roof collapsed and flames engulfed the warehouse. Assistant Chief King said that the two-alarm fire destroyed property including classic cars. Sacramento Theatrical Lighting President John Cox said in a statement Friday that the warehouse held the family’s automobile and bicycle collection, toys and car memorabilia.
But that blaze, “is not consistent with the three house fires,” King said.
Cox in his statement expressed relief that no firefighters or neighbors were injured in the blaze at the building his family had enjoyed for 30 years.
“We’ve had many wonderful gatherings there for family and friends and will miss our ‘hang out’ very much,” the statement said. “Every car, sign, toy and artifact had a story behind it and thankfully, we are all still here to reminisce and share those stories – for that we are grateful.”
Ogan estimated the loss in the E Street fire, in terms of damage to the structure and contents, was at least $2 million. He said a portion of the building probably will have to be demolished.
But in stopping the fire from spreading to adjoining buildings, firefighters were able to prevent approximately $4 million in damage, Ogan said.
Sina Soltani, owner of Lost Treasures thrift store, which shares a wall with the warehouse building, said he and several other people were inside the store when they heard people screaming and yelling. “We walked outside and saw all the smoke,” he said.
Neighboring homes and businesses were evacuated, but Solatani said he remained near the scene until about 2 a.m. Friday. Although the store smelled of smoke and he found a little soot inside, Soltani said the building was not damaged and the shop was open for business Friday.
Ogan said the response took about 50 percent of the department’s resources, and crews from West Sacramento and the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District assisted.
Ogan urged residents to be vigilant and take note of people who they don’t normally see in their neighborhood. He encouraged residents to write down what they see so the can provide good descriptions to fire investigators of police should a suspicious fire or crime occur.
Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call the arson hotline, (916) 808-8732.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.