ATWATER, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A man has been arrested for starting a fire in an abandoned building in Atwater on Monday, according to Atwater police officials.

Around 9:00 a.m., officers responded to the 2900 block of Winton Way for reports of a commercial building fire.

Officials say as fire crews worked to extinguish the fire in the abandoned building, a witness told authorities they saw a man leaving the scene northbound on Winton Way.

According to police, officers responded to the area and located a person matching the description that the witness had given officials.

Authorities say the subject, identified as Jose Espinoza, 38, was detained without incident and admitted to officers that he started the fire.

Officers say Espinoza is an ‘Atwater transient’ and was booked into the Merced County Jail for a single count of arson.

This is incident is still under investigation. Police are asking anyone with surveillance video in that area when the incident occurred to contact the Atwater Police Department at (209) 357-6384 or via email at