Downtown Bakersfield businesses begin recovery from destructive fires

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Owners of the businesses damaged by Saturday’s fires in Downtown Bakersfield are looking to pick up the pieces from the devastation. Some businesses had more damage than expected and one business-owner said he didn’t have insurance.

The fire began at around 2 a.m. next door to Tina Marie’s Cafe. It quickly spread and continued to burn for the next three hours, taking the down the cafe and another local business.

“Just turning around right now and looking at this building, it’s heartbreaking,” Tina Marie said.

The restaurant has been a staple in downtown for the past 17 years.

“It’s a part of me, it’s my life its my life work.”

Tina Marie says she’ll take some time to recoup from the traumatic event, but she plans to rebuild and is determined to come back for her customers.

“This is all I do this is all I know, this is my life,” she said. “Ive been in the food service industry for forever and I dont plan on changing that anytime soon.”

A second fire started at noon and burned two businesses next door: Sensations Lingerie and Maria’s Furniture. Bill Bui owns both businesses and says he doesn’t have insurance.

“I really dont know right now what to do, and so far everything I had to do with my own hands now,” Bui said.

The fire almost reached the Buena Vista Museum, but firefighters were able to prevent it from spreading to the connecting walls. On Sunday, Koral Hancharick, the museum’s owner, says there’s more water damage than she expected, but she’s feeling grateful.

“We dont have any real damage to artifacts or specimens, it’s all cosmetic,” she said.

Some suspect the fires began as a result of homeless encampments. Hancharick said she’s heard rumors some homeless broke into the pallet business to start a warming fire.

Tina Marie said she’s seen homeless people camping out in the area. “Im not too sure what can be done about it down here but it’s definitely a problem.”

The Bakersfield Fire Department says they’re investigating both fires for arson.

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