Man charged with arson in connection with massive fire at a California Home Depot that could be seen from space, police say
The flames “sent employees and customers running for their lives,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said during a news conference Tuesday.
Gogue allegedly lit the fire and tried to leave the store with a cart full of tools, but was stopped by an employee and fled, the release said.
“The flames quickly enveloped and destroyed the entire 98,827 square foot store causing an estimated $17 million in inventory loss,” the release said.
The loss of the entire building is “tens of millions of dollars more,” Rosen noted during the news conference.
“I am thankful this was not a multiple murder case. This fire — set during business hours — could so easily have left bodies in the rubble,” Rosen said in the news release.
Gogue was arrested Friday, the release from prosecutors said.
In addition to arson, Gogue is charged with a string of thefts in the area dating back to October, according to court documents.
Gogue faces 10 felony counts, including aggravated arson, arson of an inhabited structure or property, and grand theft, plus three petty theft misdemeanors, charging documents show.
In a court appearance Tuesday, Gogue did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bond.
“We are glad there were no physical injuries,” Gogue’s attorney, Christopher Yuen, told CNN. “We respect the strong feelings in the community and are waiting for the investigative materials to come in.”
If convicted as charged, Gogue could face 14 years to life in prison, according to Rosen. He is set to enter a plea at a court hearing on June 1.
Fire’s heat signature seen from space
“The Home Depot is pretty much a total loss, the roof is pretty much collapsed from the entire structure,” San Jose Fire Department battalion chief Brad Cloutier told KGO at the time.
Two nearby homes were also damaged by the massive fire, according to the complaint against Gogue.
“We’re thankful no one was harmed, and that all of our associates and customers are safe and accounted for,” Home Depot spokesperson Margaret Smith told CNN. “Thank you to our associates for the fast action and courage they showed to quickly evacuate the building, which ensured no one was harmed.”
Home Depot has not announced whether it will rebuild the store, but the 180 displaced employees have all been relocated to other stores in the area according to their preference, Smith said.
“We owe a great deal of thanks to the first responders, San Jose fire, police and partner organizations for their fast response and investigation that led to this arrest,” she added.
CNN’s Caroline Kucera contributed to this report.