Investigators Seek to Identify Man Seen Near Massive Modesto Building Fire

MODESTO -- Stanislaus Fire investigators and Modesto police are sharing a video, hoping to identify a person seen in the area of 8th and I streets in Modesto on Sept. 14.

The images were captured shortly before a massive four-alarm fire ravaged two commercial buildings. Several businesses were gutted by the flames including AJ Batteries, Albert's Tire and Wheels and Crescent Work and Outdoor.

While investigators want to speak to the man seen in the video, they are not calling him a suspect. At this time, they're still investigating the cause of the fire and are hoping the man can shed some light on that.

It's hard to see his face, but he has dark hair and a medium build. At one point, he removes his shirt and shortly thereafter puts it back on, possibly inside out.

Craig Stott, co-owner of Crescent Work and Outdoor, did not recognize the man Monday.

"I wish I did. And I hope that social media itself gets out there well enough where somebody hopefully will recognize that and call and do the right thing," Stott said.

Stott's grandfather opened the family business in 1946. FOX40 spoke with Stott the day after the devastating fire.

"In fact, I'm watching the fire hose demolish where my office was just 24 hours ago," Stott said that day.

Now, 10 days later, FOX40 spoke with Stott inside a building at McHenry and Stoddard avenues. Crescent Supply used to have a location there. The building later housed a thrift store.

The thrift store moved out and now Crescent Supply is going to move back in.

"This is our next step," Stott said. "We announced when the fire hit, you're not gonna take us down."

While he hopes eyewitnesses recognize the person in the surveillance video and investigators determine the cause of the fire, Stott is focused on moving forward.

"We can control the future. We can't control that Friday," Stott told FOX40. "So we've got to focus on what we can do for right now. We have a lot of employees that are our family, so it's our goal to get back up in this community as quickly as possible and provide them with something new."

The Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit considers the person in the video a witness. If you know this person or are this person, you are asked to contact the Stanislaus Regional FIU at 209-525-5537.