SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Arson investigators say they believe the fire that killed one man and injured four firefighters at an adult novelty shop in downtown San Jose Sunday night was likely intentionally set.
The three-alarm fire broke out around 5:30 Sunday night at Craze 4 Toys Adult Superstore on Santa Clara Street, in downtown San Jose.READ MORE: 'Highway Slingshot Shooter' Fires Ball Bearings at Windows Along San Jose's Guadalupe Freeway
Officers were initially called to the area, responding to a 911 call reporting a man wielding a sledgehammer and threatening to burn down the building, according to fire officials.
“He came back and entered the business and set fire to the building in multiple places,” said San Jose fire Capt. Mitch Matlow.
The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office had not released the name of the person who died in the fire.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department says they recently served the owner of the business where the fire started with an eviction notice. A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson says the owner was formally evicted on September 5.READ MORE: 3 East Bay School Districts Go All-In on Student Vaccine Mandates
Arson investigators say they will examine if that recent eviction may have been a motive in the fire.
“Money problems are the most horrific problems to have,” said Cheryl Wright, a frequent customer of the nearby grocery store that was also damaged by the fire.
Wright says she knows from personal experience that a failing business can weigh heavily on the owner.
“It will terrorize you. You’re not thinking right. You just need a way out — whatever that may be,” Wright said.
“Money problems are the most horrific problems to have,” said Cheryl Wright, a frequent customer of the nearby grocery store that was also damaged by the fire.MORE NEWS: State-of-the-Art Water Purification Plant Helps Silicon Valley Battle Drought
The grocery store next door was heavily damaged by the fire. It is not clear when it will be able to reopen.