Fire damage forces Stockton Food Bank to close, say organizers

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- Mangled metal, melted cameras and lights and destroyed plastic bins was just some of the damage left at the Stockton Emergency Food Bank. Organizers said an early morning fire at a homeless encampment damaged a part of their property and forced them to close their doors Friday.

“Here you can see where the fire was so hot that it buckled the metal,” Board of Directors Chair Steve Morales told FOX40. "It melted many of our fixtures."

Families are usually greeted by smiling volunteers who are ready to hand them food, but instead Friday they were face to face with a closed fence.

“You could see how the fence even buckled,” he said. “We’ve had staff and volunteers since 2:30 out here helping to clean up, trying to make sure that we’d be able to get ready as soon as possible.”

It destroyed asphalt and decimated dozens of plastic food bins, all property that belongs to the food bank.

“So, we’re really sad that we can’t feed those families,” said Morales.

Morales said on average, they serve about 300 families a day.

“It’s disappointing because I was looking for something nice for my husband for Valentine’s Day and my daughter and my grandkids,” said Evelyn Johnson Hale who goes to the food bank.

Morales estimates the total damage to be at least $9,000. Although the food bank has insurance, the money they have will now go toward repairs.

It’s money that otherwise would have gone to the families in need.

“Every dollar really goes to help feed families and there’s a lot of need out there,” said Morales.

The food bank will re-open on Tuesday because of the three-day weekend.

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