Update: Fire Investigators Say Hilltop Drive Fire Human-Caused
Updated On: Feb 18 2013 07:46:37 PM CST
Six engines and a ladder truck responded to a busy commercial area in Redding Sunday afternoon, when a building went up in flames.
It was reported just after 3 p.m. at an abandoned business in the parking lot of Best Buy at 1010 Hilltop Drive. Nearly two dozen firefighters and all but one city fire engine responded.
On Monday, Craig Wittner, a fire investigator with the Redding Fire Department said the fire was human-caused.
Wittner said he believes the fire was started by a human because the former tattoo parlor had no electricity, utilities, or gas.
Wittner said there were reports the building had experienced activity earlier in the day, but did not label them as suspicious.
He said around 1 p.m. there were reports of shoplifting in the area. Redding Police searched the building but did not arrest anyone.
Wittner said the former tattoo shop is known as a so called "flop house" where transients lived.
He said inside there were multiple propane tanks that added fuel to the fire, making it spread quickly.
Wittner believes the fire started in the front of the building.
He said as it moved to the second story the ceiling, walls and stairs were consumed, making it difficult for crews to get inside and extinguish the flames.
Sunday night the remainder of the building was flattened which Wittner said will make it tough to ever discover exactly how the fire broke out.
The fire sent a column of black smoke into the sky, and forced an hours-long closure of the southbound lanes of Hilltop Drive in the area.
By the time firefighters responded, the building was fully involved in flames. One witness said he has seen people living in the building.
Anyone with information should give the Redding Fire Department a call.
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