‘It’s pretty devastating’: flames close down long-standing Fresno County market

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A piece of Fresno County history goes up in flames and the suspects accused of starting the blaze are on the run.

It happened at Hansen’s Grocery on McKinley around 4 Wednesday morning. 

The same market that was hit by robbers last month. 

Fire officials say the suspects used a truck and chain to try to rip the front door off of the store when the pick up suddenly caught fire spreading the flames to the store front. 

All day long customers have been stopping by just shocked to see that one of their favorite places looks like this. 

“This is sad what happened right here,” said Nate Paez, a regular customer. 

“It’s pretty devastating,” said Anthony Sinopoli, customer and neighbor. “I mean this is our local store. I come in here everyday.” 

Hansen’s Grocery has been the go to spot in this West Central Fresno neighborhood for decades. 

“Been in the community here. Staple in the community, forever,” said Landlord, Mike Smith. 

Mike Smith’s grandmother opened the convenience store in 1949. 

“Hate to see this happen,” Smith said. 

Just after 4 a.m., fire investigator say thieves attached a chain to a stolen truck and pulled off the security gate. They reversed into the main door and rushed inside. 

“Went in and stole lottery tickets and cigarettes,” smith said. 

“I don’t understand why they do that. They want to steal,” Paez added. 

Fire crew say the truck got stuck in caught on fire spreading to the building. 

“It appears they might’ve been trying to get the truck out when it caught fire. Maybe from revving the tires and then spinning,” said Andy Isolano, Fire Investigator with North Central Fire District. 

Unfortunately, this is not the store’s first run in with criminals. 

Surveillance video from mid-July shows the clerk was held up at gunpoint. He tried to fight back with a chair. The thieves made off with cash and cigarettes. 

“They said to be looking out for a truck,” Sinopoli said. 

But their getaway vehicle was different than the one sitting outside the store on Wednesday. 

The store owner is shocked by not one but two targeted attacks. 

“We’re like one big family here,” said Owner, Amar Daroch. “This morning everyone was just coming over and trying to console me.” 

While the business is closed plans are already in the works for the future. 

“We’ll get it built back up and ready to go again,” smith said. 

“People are senseless. They do senseless stuff,” Sinopoli said. 

The owner and the landlord have both filed claims with their insurance companies. It’s believed the fire caused at least $200,000 in damage.

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