CAMPBELL (KPIX 5) — A suspect has been arrested in the arson fire that damaged a popular pet store in Campbell.
Late Monday night, Campbell Police officers received calls of a woman causing a disturbance in the street. Investigators say Cassandra Fay Warren, a transient known to officers, matched the description of a homeless woman who was suspected of starting the blaze at Pets and More at 841 W. Hamilton Avenue.
Shortly after the September 4 fire, a witness told detectives a homeless woman was seen stuffing paper into a crack in the exterior wall of the pet shop just before sunrise, set it on fire, and fled the scene. The building was unoccupied, and flames moved into the attic area of the building before firefighters were called.
Campbell Police Captain Joe Cefalu says Warren, 35, confessed, and will be charged with arson, and being under the influence of a controlled substance.
“Just disappointed and sad. You know, really sad that it happened,” said Howard Labe, store owner. “It’s been kind of an emotional roller coaster, to say the least.”
The store, which opened in 2003, is still partially without power a week after the fire. A large battery powers a fan that provides ventilation to employees working in the dark, but customers are not allowed inside, and the lack of electricity means Labe cannot process transactions. The gaping hole in the ceiling has still not been repaired.
“Frustrated that yes, we’d love to be open right now. But we can’t let anyone in the store until we know what’s going on,” said Labe.
Last week, a GoFundMe account for the store was launched, and has since raised more than $2,000 towards its $20,000 goal.
“I was touched. We’ve had a lot of people come by the store and tell us how much they want to support us. And we’re getting people walking up and saying ‘Hey, we’re here for you, whatever we can do.’ It’s huge, you don’t realize that as a business owner how you affect people until something like this really happens,” said Labe.
Octavious Madrigal has been coming to the store for the past ten years. Employees know his pets by name. Madrigal did not hesitate to donate money.
“It’s just a down-home feeling. The one-on-one relationships, they ask about you and your animals. And they know you when you come in,” said Madrigal, “Support small business, support the community and hopefully we can keep small businesses like this going a lot longer.”
“We’re not getting rich doing this, we’re doing it because we love doing it,” said Labe.