STOCKTON — The day after fire swept through a pallet facility in Stockton, families across the street are picking up whatever they have left.
The home Tricia Payne rented was destroyed in the fire. Payne, a single mom with two kids, shared the home with her mom and her sister. They did not have renter’s insurance
Payne had a pet rabbit and some reptiles that died in the fire.
Patricia Snipes was injured while she and other neighbors fled their homes during the fire.
“I heard the lady next door hollering first and when I looked up, that’s when I saw it,” Snipes said.
She told FOX40 that the fire grew to be so hot that police told people to leave their homes. Snipes and her son left immediately, but she still felt the intensity of the fire.
“I was running down the street and the heat was so hot, it burned me,” she said.
Snipes suffered 2nd-degree burns on her face, legs and arms — but her home was left intact.
“They said the whole house is there, so that’s a blessing,” Snipes told FOX40.
That’s something some of her neighbors are unable to say. Neighbor Marsha Rigmaiden gave FOX40 a glimpse into her new reality — a home flooded with water from the fire fight and destroyed belongings.
“So where do we go from here?” Rigmaiden said.
Mayor Michael Tubbs issued a statement Friday:
“My heart goes out to the families devastated by yesterday’s fire. Thank you to the first responders, Red Cross and volunteers that jumped into action to assist our community. The city will continue to work to learn more about the cause of this fire. In the meantime, for those looking to send donations please reach out to our local Red Cross.”
Neighbors Had Issued Multiple Complaints About Pallet Yard
Families along Weber Avenue spent Friday morning combing through debris, trying to find what little they are able to salvage. While they are saddened by their losses, they are also frustrated because they believe this could have been avoided.
“Everybody’s been calling code enforcement for a long time,” Rigmaiden said. Payne said code enforcement was called at least 20 times.
Their complaint — the way the company Hugo’s Pallets had been stacking its pallets.
Code enforcement issued a citation on May 9 as a result, according to Joe Silva of the Stockton Police Department. The property owner, Hugo Jaurgui, was given 20 days to fix the issue and officials were meant to come back to the site next week to ensure that everything was properly resolved. Jaurgui says he never saw a citation.
Jaurgui, who opened his business just a year ago, also said that he was there when the fire started and doesn’t know what happened. He feels bad for the neighbors who were the victims of what he believes was an accident.
Although Jaurgui alleges that he had all the proper licenses and permits to operate his company, some neighbors say they are in the process of filing a lawsuit.
“Everybody on this block has children,” neighbor Nakisha Thompson said. “That fire spread so fast. Had we not been evacuated the way we were, we would’ve all perished.”
But Rigmaiden is just happy to be alive.
“You know, sometimes my mind goes black for a minute and I say, ‘It’s going to be alright,’ you know what I mean?” she said. “I know it’s going to be hard and what not but we’re alive.”