Up to 10 businesses — including a landmark Chinese restaurant — have been reduced to ashes in a series of “suspicious” fires in Hollister, California on Monday.
The Hollister Fire Department first received a report of a burning car on Santa Ana Rd. and East St. around 1:55 a.m. A few minutes later, another car fire was reported on East St. and Second St.
While heading back from the second fire, they found Cheung Sheng Chinese Restaurant, located on East St. and Sixth St., in flames. Shortly after, a commercial building on the corner of 5th St. and East St. was engulfed.
Unfortunately, both structure fires resulted in total losses.
Cheung Sheng, which offers Szechuan and Hunan cuisine, has served patrons since 1988. While Fire Station No. 1 is just two blocks away, the business was fully ablaze by the time of response.
“It’s just all the memories. We started the restaurant back in ’88, I was 13. We did our homework there everyday after school. I got married in there, we brought our kids, my nephews my nieces,” Cheung Sheng owner Yauwai Fu told KSBW.
Responders contained the fire at 4:15 a.m. Fu described the incident as “heartbreaking.”
“We are determined and we will open up again. Maybe not this location but Hollister, because this is our community, our home,” the owner added.
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The Fu family has been a party of our community for the past 6 years. They have always been generous and kind. Some of the most loving people we have had the pleasure of knowing. This morning tragedy struck; the family restaurant was burned to the ground. Cheung Sheng, a community favorite was hit by an arsonist. Our hearts are broken for this family. Please stay tuned as we find ways to support them. They more than deserve to see love in action in the wake of such senseless disregard.
Up to 50 firefighters, including from other agencies, were mobilized to respond. The structure fires proved to be more difficult to put out as they involved wooden buildings and had huge spaces within.
“That’s a lot of fires in a short amount of time, and we exhausted all of our resources in a matter of 10 minutes. The car fires were out within five to 10 minutes,” Hollister Fire Chief Bob Martin del Campo told BenitoLink.
The official was hesitant to call the fires arson. However, he found them to be “a strong coincidence” and thought they “could be linked to each other.”
“There are a lot of cameras around here, so there’s a lot of visibility in the area. We’re going to be able to see what was happening before, during and after the fires,” he added.
Around noon, police found the suspect’s vehicle — present at two of the fire locations — near the 200 block of San Benito St. They stopped the male suspect two hours later when he tried to leave the area in a different vehicle, according to The Mercury News.
David Anthony Pequeño, 21, was charged with four counts of felony arson, according to KION. He was booked at the county jail with bail set at $1,000,004.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Cheung Sheng. So far, it has raised more than $3,900.
The police investigation continues.
Feature Image via Cheung Sheng Chinese Restaurant (left) and Hollister Police Department (right)