The San Jose Fire Department responded to a fire located at 645 Park Ave in San Jose on Sunday, April 13.
Soon after firefighters arrived it was declared a five-alarm fire. This meant that the damage to the facility was so intense that firefighters had to fight the blaze from outside of the building. The building was once home to KNTV offices and news studio. The station moved from this location several years ago leaving the building empty. The building remained abandoned for several years until San Jose’s homeless population began living in the building.
According to security officers at the site, several homeless people were attempting to come back to the location where make-shift tents had been set up in the rear of the building before the fire began. A bulldozer and workers excavating the site helped remove several tents that were abandoned due to the fire.
Much of the debris had been removed during a search for several homeless people who were unaccounted for after the fire. The SJFD investigators on scene said, that the possibility of human remains on the premises was inconclusive after cadaver dogs scoured the area.
Four days after the initial blaze, an announcement of an arrest came on Wednesday April 16, with the appearance of Stillman Pfeffer, a 55-year-old transient, at the San Jose Hall of Justice in Dept. 23 for a brief bail hearing. Pfeffer is facing one count of felony arson.
A female witness said she had seen Pfeffer pour an accelerant onto a mattress and then light it on fire. That is when the flames began to burn out of control, forcing more than forty individuals from the grounds.
Photos: Amy Nilson and Santa Clara Sheriff