A man arrested in connection with a fire that damaged 3 Visalia businesses

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) – Since Sunday afternoon, the Visalia Fire and Police departments have been working together to find the person responsible for starting the fire in this alley.

An arrest was made on Monday.

A burst of flames that started in a dumpster on the 300th block of Main Street on Sunday night resulted in the destruction of three businesses.

Now Decor To Adore, Alejandra’s Restaurant and Jimmy Johns are closed until the owners determine their next steps.

Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen says he spoke to restaurant owner Alejandra, who remains in shock.

“He seemed to be in good spirits,” Nelsen said. “As good as you can be, but now the real work begins for him. You have to deal with the insurance and the landlord. This is an ongoing, long-term situation.

Nelsen says no matter how long the situation lasts, the community support is there.

“I’ve already connected them with our Labor Investment Board to start this process, but it’s taking time,” he said.

Visalia firefighters and police cooperated in the investigation.

On Monday evening, firefighters announced that Jessie Hager, 56, was the person responsible.

He was convicted on two counts of residential arson, one count of structural arson and one count of property arson.

Nearby businesses and the iconic Visalia Fox Theater were unaffected by the flames.

“I can’t believe something like this happened,” says Wilhelmina Santana, executive director of the Fox Theater. “Such destruction. We feel sad and heavy hearted.”

In 2018, three businesses, including Café 225, were also burned to ashes right in front of Sunday’s fire.

Now a mural is spotted on the wooden planks as reconstruction plans take place.

Nelsen is urging the community to be patient as plans to rebuild all impacted businesses on this stretch of Main Street continue.

He says projects downtown, like the placement of trash cans, are also underway.

“The other thing we’re working on is setting up cameras and having them put intense lights in the alley,” he said.

Although an arrest has been made, the investigation is continuing.

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