VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Less than 24 hours after a massive fire broke out in downtown Visalia, police say a man has now been arrested for arson.
The Visalia Police Department says 56-year-old Jessie Hager has been arrested for arson in connection to the fire.
Police say Hager is known by the homeless outreach team and frequents the area. They say tips from citizens helped track him down.
“We were able to identify an individual through different pieces of evidence and witness statements and surveillance in the area,” said Visalia Police Sgt. Mike Short.
Sgt. Short it was a dumpster fire behind several businesses on West Main Street that got out of control.
“That’s how it originally came into us but unfortunately, it was able to spread before us and the fire department were able to get to the scene” added Sgt. short.
Sgt. Short says several tips and surveillance video from the area that afternoon helped track down Hager.
“He is known to us in our homeless outreach team, he does have family in the area that he’ll stay with from time to time,” added short.
The fire severely damaged several businesses, including Jimmy John’s, a jewelry store, and Alejandra’s Mexican Restaurant.
“It’s a very very sad situation, it’s something that obviously hits all of us, that work in the community and live here as well and those are some businesses we obviously frequent all the time” added short.
Hager is being charged with two counts of arson of an inhabited dwelling, arson to a structure, and one count of property arson.
“We do appreciate the community’s help and the different businesses and the different citizens that have come to our aid and kinda helped us solve this crime,” said Short.