STOCKTON (CBS13) — Thursday’s four-alarm fire in Stockton is raising a lot of questions after several neighbors say they have been complaining about the pallet business across the street.
“The fire got as high as 50 to 100 feet in the air, and you just saw these big balls of fire,” said Nakisha Thompson, who’s house was destroyed.
About 80-firefighters from several agencies spent hours putting out the flames at Hugo’s Pallets incorporated near downtown.
Residents nearby had to be evacuated as strong winds pushed the flames towards the neighborhood across the street. In its path, the huge fire burned trees, cars and destroyed homes.
“It burned everything. They took everything that all of us own. Everything. I have nothing. My kids are graduating. I have nothing,” said Nicky Swan, who has lived on Weber Avenue for a little over a year.
Swan says neighbors have complained many times to the city about Hugo’s Pallets Inc.
CBS 13 found the city had issued the company a citation on May 9 for nails on the street and having pallets stacked up too high. The city has received numerous complaints but could not say just how many complaints.
“The pallets across the street be piling up. The neighbors be complaining about it. We have all complained about the people across the street there, the wooden pallets was the problem. And they piled up so much they stopped even coming out of the exit because there was so much dead wood over there,” said Swan.
Over the phone, Stockton Fire Chief Erik Newman said complaints issued to the property were filed to fire prevention and the city’s code enforcement, but hasn’t reached his office yet. Neighbors don’t buy it.
“I’m thinking that he’s not being as responsible as he should be because I’m sure that those complaints gotten there because between all of the residents we were calling everyone,” said Thompson.
We spoke with the owner of Hugo’s Pallets, who runs a similar business in Oakland. He suspects the fire may have started behind his property, but fire officials are still investigating the exact cause.