BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A county-wide surge in structure fires continues, with two more fires reported overnight. An abandoned home in Oildale was reduced to smoldering ash after a fire last night. Another blaze broke out yesterday, less than two miles away. Bakersfield firefighters were called to Decatur Street, just two blocks from North Chester Avenue, for a report of a fire in an abandoned home at about 4:30 Sunday afternoon. Gary Chin lives down the street.
“I saw the fire trucks go by,” said Chin, an Oildale Resident. “It’s not unusual for them to go up and down the street.”
Chin says he points the blame at the local transient population.
“If the houses are boarded up, you watch late at night and someone’s going to come along and break in,” said Chin. “They’re fire bugs, that’s not good.”
He says incidents like this make it hard to feel safe in his neighborhood.
“If you don’t belong in my yard at night and you’re in my yard, you might get shot,” said Chin.
The home was a complete loss, but no one was injured. City fire investigators say they’ve seen more abandoned building fires so far this year than the entirety of last year.
“Our arson investigators have made 30 arrests in fires this year,” said Capt. Michael Taylor of the Bakersfield Fire Dept.
And it’s not just abandoned buildings. The second fire of the night erupted at the Frosty Burger restaurant on Chester Avenue and 34th street, at about 11:30. Security footage shows the suspected arsonist moments before the blaze. The restaurant owners say he walked through the parking lot before pouring gasoline near a trailer and setting it on fire.
The blaze overtook two trailers in the parking lot … but the restaurant was undamaged and reopened the next day. Firefighters urge building owners to think ahead to stay safe.
“Invest in a camera system, keep them up high,” said Capt. Taylor. “Make sure you keep your dumpster away from your business.”
First responders say they’re investigating both of these fires. If you have any information you’re encouraged to call Bakersfield police at 327-7111.