Salinas businesses have been hit by a series of fires, costing thousands

Three arson attacks in less than 72 hours targeting South Salinas businesses have cost business owners thousands of dollars in damages and police are searching for the arsonists. The first in a series of fires started on August 9 when someone lit a dumpster on fire. Behind Wing Stop near CVS Pharmacy. Two days later, an ATM outside Union Bank caught fire early in the morning. Later that evening, based on bank surveillance video, police arrested 36-year-old Fernando Guatemala and charged him with the arson. Then on August 12, a man wearing a hoodie was seen setting fire outside MYO Frozen Yogurt. That fire caused several large windows to break. “I mean all businesses but let alone small businesses in these communities trying to survive after this pandemic and everything else that’s been thrown our way is just another thing. What you’re going to do, you’ve got to move on,” said Molly Meyer, owner of MYO Frozen Yogurt. Fire investigators believe the fire was the random act of a variety of people, in this case, homeless people, according to people close to the investigation. In fact, firefighters have responded to 311 fires so far this year. The homeless are said to be to blame. A 40% jump from last year. Earlier this summer, a homeless man was arrested for allegedly starting a series of fires near the Vietnam Memorial in Laurel. Two homeless people say they were to blame. One was arrested for walking down Highway 101 with black on his shoes. Salinas Mayor Kimbley Craig says addressing the needs of the homeless is a top priority. Homelessness housing and its wrap-around services related to the city led to that It’s fulfilling,” Craig said. “I feel for these people but you have services out there for them so you hope they take advantage of it, that’s all you can do,” the mayor said. Salinas police say officers will be vigilant while on patrol, especially in areas where the fires started. They remind people if you see something, say something.

Three arson attacks in less than 72 hours that targeted South Salinas businesses left business owners with thousands of dollars in damage and police searching for the arsonists.

The first in a series of fires began Aug. 9 when someone set fire to a dumpster behind a Wing Stop near a CVS pharmacy.

Two days later, there was an early morning fire at an ATM outside Union Bank. Later that evening, police arrested 36-year-old Fernando Guatemala based on bank surveillance video and charged him with arson.

And then on Aug. 12, someone wearing a hoodie was seen starting a fire outside MYO Frozen Yogurt. Many large windows were broken due to the fire.

“I mean all the businesses but let alone the small businesses in these communities it’s just trying to survive after the pandemic and all the other things that have been thrown our way it’s another thing to deal with it but you’ve got to keep what you’re going to do. Moving,” said Molly Meyer, owner of MYO Frozen Yogurt.

Fire investigators believe the fire was the random act of various people, in this case, homeless people, according to people close to the investigation. In fact, firefighters say the homeless are to blame for 311 fires so far this year. 40% jump from last year.

Earlier this summer, a homeless man was arrested, accused of starting a series of fires near the Vietnam Memorial in Laurel. And last year two buildings were destroyed by fire near Action and John streets, and again investigators say two homeless men were to blame. A man has been arrested for walking down Highway 101 with black on his shoes.

Salinas Mayor Kimble Craig says addressing the needs of the homeless is a top priority.

“Whether it’s mental health services drug rehabilitation job transition, all those things that transition out of homelessness, its wrap-around services related to housing and the city,” Craig said.

“I feel for these people but you have services for them so you hope they take advantage of it, that’s all you can do,” the mayor said.

Salinas police say officers will remain vigilant while on patrol, especially in areas where those arson fires started. They remind people if you see something, say something.

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