Local, state and federal police and fire officials are investigating more than a dozen overnight incidents of vandalism and suspicious fires that resulted in damages to at least 10 downtown Hollister businesses—two of which were a total loss—and numerous vehicles.
Calls reporting a series of fires started about 2am Nov. 2, according to Hollister Police. Emergency authorities first received a call of a car on fire on McCray Street near Santa Ana Road. Minutes later, authorities received a report of another vehicle on fire on Second Street, near Sally Street.
After that, authorities received a report of a restaurant on fire on Sixth Street, followed by a call reporting a blaze at a commercial building on Fifth Street at the corner of East Street.
Hollister Fire Department responded to the structure fires to find the buildings already engulfed in flames, according to authorities. Firefighters were able to put out the fires and contain them from spreading to nearby buildings.
The businesses where the first two fires were reported—Cheung Sheng Chinese restaurant and She’s Consignment & Gifts—were completely destroyed, authorities said. A total of 10 businesses were “destroyed or affected in some manner.” That’s an even more substantial impact than initial reports described the morning of Nov. 2.
Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez described Cheung Sheng restaurant and She’s as “family owned” businesses in a post reporting the fire about 7:30am Nov. 2.
While the fires were burning, Hollister Police began receiving calls reporting slashed tires on parked vehicles in the area of West Graf Road, and in the area where the initial car fires occurred. Officers are investigating the tire damage reports, and think the vandalism may be connected to the fires.
“The fires are obviously suspicious in nature and the San Benito County Arson Task Force has been investigating,” Hollister Police said in a press release. The city’s fire and police departments, as well as the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, are participating in the investigation.
Local authorities have also requested additional resources from regional, state and federal partners. CalFire, Monterey County Cause and Origin Task Force and the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms have also sent investigators to the scene to help.
Investigators are reviewing footage from downtown cameras as a part of their search for evidence.
Anyone with information about the fires and vandalism incidents can call Hollister Police at (831) 636-4330. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME. Information provided to WeTip may qualify for a reward.