A four-alarm fire likely stemming from arson that started in a trash bin and extended to two businesses and a homeless encampment in Riverside left one person burned and caused more than $200,000 in damage, authorities said Monday.
The blaze was reported just before 11 p.m. Sunday in the area of Howard Avenue and 14th Street, according to the Riverside Fire Department.
Battalion Chief Bruce Vanderhorst said eight engine crews and three truck companies — numbering almost 50 personnel — were sent to the location and encountered flames in a garbage bin, extending to palm trees and the Solar Max building at 3080 12th St.
Additionally, flames reached the exterior of Set Free Thrift Store at 3021 14th St., Vanderhorst said.
He said that a transient camp was in the fire’s path, and firefighters found a woman in the encampment suffering from moderate burns. She was taken to a regional trauma center for treatment.
“The fire extended into the roof and attic space of Solar Max, which is (located in) a historic structure that was used to manufacture World War II equipment,” the battalion chief said. “The fire sprinkler system activated, causing water damage to the ground floor. Firefighters aggressively attacked the fire and contained it to the attic space.”
The flames in the homeless camp were quickly doused, and crews stopped the conflagration before it reached the interior of Set Free Thrift Store, according to Vanderhorst. The exterior of the structure sustained minor damage, which he estimated to be $5,000.
The fire at Solar Max was knocked down shortly after midnight Monday. Damage to the building was estimated to be roughly $200,000.
Crews finished mopping up by daybreak Monday.
Arson investigators were conducting a probe, Vanderhorst said.
No suspects were immediately identified.