STOCKTON — As crews worked to clear the aftermath of a fire that ripped through Stockton’s Central Pallets early Tuesday morning, families who live nearby began a cleanup of their own.
“Just so stressed out, still stressed out,” neighbor Lela Speegle said.
Speegle says she and her grandchildren were afraid for their lives.
“Flames, just flames roaring over the houses, I could feel the heat,” she said.
And that fear remains throughout the neighborhood.
“I’m kinda worried now because the pallets are just that close,” neighbor Carlos Lara said.
Neighbors say in the frenzy, they packed what they could and tried to leave. In the chaos, Lara says his handicapped mother broke her arm.
“Flames were like skyscrapers, you know, so I’m just like just trying to get her and I passed my little sister and I’m like, ‘Here, push her,'” Lara said.
This is the second major fire neighbors have dealt with. Two years ago, a blaze at nearby Hugo’s Pallets spread to five homes and injured one person.
“It’s starting to become more concerning to us,” Lara told FOX40.
Tuesday morning’s fire was so intense that it melted the blinds, shattered windows and burned the outside of Azmat Khan’s duplex.
“I just got my car, my mom and I just left,” Khan said. “I left everything on the inside.”
As the ashes are gathered and the soot is thrown away, many families are scared another fire could break out.
“This is all we have, me and these kids,” Speegle said. “It took us a long time to get what we have.”
Stockton police spokesman Joe Silva said the business was inspected last week and was up to code. He noted some minor violations were found but they do not appear to be connected to the fire.