Several buildings are picking up the pieces after multiple fires roared through downtown Bakersfield last night. One of them is A Dream Shared, a non-profit thrift store that hires adults with special needs. The store’s owners received devastating news just after 11:00 last night. No one knows why the fires started, but the owners know where.
“Our son called us and we came down and showed up to like eight fire engines here last night,” said Charles Heard. “Our footage we have shows a flame coming between our wall and the PG and E gas meter in the back. There’s a flame that ignites our donations and stuff that we had in the back.”
The electric company told the family the meter wouldn’t have enough gas moving through it to create a blaze large enough to consume the entire building. The family fears this may have been the result of something more sinister than a stroke of bad luck.
“The damage to the equipment was very interesting. Something happened inside that caused the metal to flare out rather than in,” said Heard.
This comes two years into the Heard family’s business, just as they made plans to buy the building instead of renting.
“The boys have worked really hard, and it’s gone,” he said. “We’re still here, we’re still accepting donations, we’ll still come do pickups. And we’re not gonna give up.”
The Bakersfield Fire Department fears this may not be an isolated incident. This is one of multiple fires that broke out last night in downtown Bakersfield. The circumstances surrounding this fire prompted them to consider whether arsonists are behind the blaze.
“We’ve got a three-person arson unit with a battalion commander working day in and day out to try and investigate this,” said Michael Walkley, a Battalion Chief for the Bakersfield Fire Department. “We’ve had a few fires last night, four. We’ve also had a few other commercial building fires. It could look like a pattern but we don’t know that, so they are being investigated.”
If you have any information about this fire, the Bakersfield Fire Department urges you to call them at 661-326-3687. The owners of A Dream Shared say they plan to tear the building down and find a new location. Visit this Go-Fund-Me to help the family rebuild.