STOCKTON -- Scorched, burned wood -- just some of the damage at the historic B&M building in downtown Stockton.
Firefighters believe a homeless person may have started the Thursday morning fire on Bridge Place near North El Dorado Street.
“Usually you don’t think of people bringing fires right next to the building, why would they do that? That.. that’s scary!” said Nora Clark, who lives nearby.
In the past, investigators have said that they’ve had to put out fires from time-to-time caused by homeless people, especially in vacant buildings throughout downtown.
For instance, the historic Kendall building. In June, smoke and flames filled the air and a man was rescued from the roof. The building was supposed to be unoccupied, but that may soon change.
“Lots of times when you see big buildings, you don’t necessarily see all the work or the things that are happening in the background,” said Micah Runner, Stockton’s economic development director.
Runner says there are plans to turn some of the empty buildings throughout downtown into something more.
“We’re starting to see some folks, some investment into some of these buildings, and start to really see some interest and repositioning them and reoccupying them,” Runner said.
Construction and plans are underway for some restaurants.
As for the Kendall building, a San Francisco developer bought it months ago. They’ve plastered the side of the building with a look at what it will be once it’s revitalized.
“Some of the properties will turnover, you know, and start seeing some reoccupied in the next year or two,” Runner said.
But for some members of the community, the problem is the lack of homeless shelters to prevent fires and any potential danger from striking in Stockton.
“They need to be in a shelter. They don’t need to be out in the street. They don’t need to be under tents,” Clark says.
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.