BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A devastating overnight fire in Downtown Bakersfield left the community searching for answers beneath the charred remains of yet another abandoned building. Firefighters were called to Maria’s Home Furnishings on Chester Avenue at about 10:45 last night, next door to the original location of Tina Marie’s Cafe, which burned to the ground in December. The other building next door? The Buena Vista Museum.
“It’s just gut-wrenching to see that, seeing the huge flames shooting up out of the building again,” said Koral Hancharick, Executive Director of the Buena Vista Museum. “Brought back a lot of memories from December when the other fire happened that burned the four buildings.”
This comes as the museum rebuilds from December’s fire.
“In December we had $180,000 worth of damage to the building,” said Hancharick. “But it looks we’re also going to need a structural engineer to look at our wall.”
City officials say scenes like this are far too common in Bakersfield.
“The city has what it’s calling our chronic nuisance property initiative,” said Bakersfield City Manager Christian Clegg. “There’s also programs called lien forgiveness programs, that would allow us to get the property back into productive use by forgiving some of the liens and fines against it.”
City fire called arson investigators to the scene.
“There were reports of subjects leaving seen leaving the building as the firefighters were arriving on scene,” said Mike Lencioni, a Battalion Chief with the Bakersfield Fire Dept. “They’ve had issues with this building being unsecured, and having to run people out of it before.”
First responders say you can keep your building safe by locking your doors and installing cameras.
If you want to help the Buena Vista Museum rebuild, visit their website. No word yet on how much their repairs to cost. Staff say the museum could be open again as soon as next week.