VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A man accused of starting a dumpster fire that destroyed three businesses in downtown Visalia has pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.
On Wednesday, 56-year-old Jessie Hager was arraigned in court on two felony counts of arson related to the massive fire that broke out near Main and Floral streets last week. Officials say Hager entered a not guilty plea.
Hager was arrested on Monday afternoon after the Visalia Police Department says it was able to identify him as the person who started the fire in a dumpster behind Alejandra’s Mexican Restaurant.
Around 4:30 p.m on Sunday, crews from the Visalia Fire Department responded to the restaurant after several people called 911 to report the fire.
When firefighters arrived, they found the intense flames had spread from the dumpster to the restaurant, eventually catching a nearby Jimmy John’s and a decor store on fire.
If convicted of all charges, Hager faces up to six years and eight months in state prison. Hager’s bail has been set at $275,000.
He is expected back in court for a preliminary hearing conference on Monday, May 16.