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Arson fire burns former site of Crescent Supply destroyed by massive blaze last year

Fire crews are on scene Thursday evening September 19, 2019 at a commercial structure fire on 8th street for an exterior fire at a previously burned building in downtown Modesto, Calif. Crews were able to quickly contain the fire, minimizing damage to nearby businesses.
Fire crews are on scene Thursday evening September 19, 2019 at a commercial structure fire on 8th street for an exterior fire at a previously burned building in downtown Modesto, Calif. Crews were able to quickly contain the fire, minimizing damage to nearby businesses. Modesto Fire Dept.

Just over a year after a massive blaze destroyed Crescent Supply in downtown Modesto, the building again caught fire Thursday night.

The fire was started by transients who had a warming fire in a barrel under the awning of the building on Eighth Street, said Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit Supervisor Dustin Bruley.

He said the fire in the barrel spread to the awning and plywood used to board up the building, which was the site of a four alarm fire on Sept. 14, 2018.

Bruley said the cause of that fire remains undetermined as investigators await results on forensic evidence sent to the Department of Justice and are still trying to track down a person of interest captured on video surveillance walking in an alley behind the businesses prior to the fire.

Last year’s fire destroyed Crescent Supply, the outdoor clothing and uniform shop that had been at that location since 1963, and damaged two neighboring businesses.

“Last Saturday was the one year anniversary of the fire so mentally it was already a hard weekend for my sister and I,” said Craig Stott, who owns Crescent Supply with his sister.

Stott said he was home Thursday night when a friend called to tell him about the fire.

The siblings never owned the building but they do own several buildings in the same block so Stott and his wife headed downtown.

“Driving down H Street, for starters I was following one of the battalion chiefs with his lights on; that was eerie enough knowing where he was going,” Stott said. “To see the glow and the fire struck us, and the anxiety level was a little bit higher... The smell, it was the same smell, and the same visual, the sound of the water the sound of the crackling, all of it it.”

While he once again watched the former site of his business burn, none of the properties he owns around it were affected.

Crescent Supply reopened in one of its former location on McHenry Avenue a month after the 2018 fire and Stott said they plan to celebrate the one year anniversary of that reopening next month with sales, commemorative T-Shirts and a food truck.

While he never owned the downtown location he said customers regularly ask him when he is going to demolish it or rebuild on the site and complain about the graffiti and trash that surround it.

The owner lives in the Bay Area and is currently in talks with a potential buyer, said Modesto spokesman Thomas Reeves.

“We are letting that process play out,” Reeves said. “We are confident that the process is going to go through so the city should not need to step in and tear it down.”

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Erin has been covering breaking news and crime at The Modesto Bee since 2010. She is a Humboldt State graduate and resides in Oakdale.
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