In recent weeks three fires have occurred in the Tower District, all within the same proximity, Two of the fires took place at either gay owned and operated, or formerly gay operated and still gay owned nightclubs. The first fire took place on September 26th at the North Tower Circle, the second on October 1st at Club Dance (formerly the Fresno Express), and, most recently, a third fire, which has been ruled arson, occurred at a bail bonds business in the area.
Due to the fact that the first two fires occurred at businesses that either presently catered to or, in the past had catered to gay and lesbian clientle, suspicions were high that there may have been an individual targeting gay owned and operated businesses. Now with the third fire at, Bail-U-Out bail bonds, a business owned and operated by heterosexual individuals, those suspicions, while still possible, are probably a bit less likely. Still, even if the hate crime possibility is low, there is still concern for the safety of the individuals living in the Tower District area, and, beings that many gay and lesbian individuals live in the Tower District, we should do all we can to ensure the safety of our community, and the community as a whole, especially since two of the recent fires have been called arson.
In a recent conversation with Captain Don MacAlpine of the Fresno Fire Department he said, "I am comfortable calling both the fires at Club Dance and Bail-U-Out Bail Bonds arson, though we are still looking at all possibilities." In regards to the fire that destroyed a large portion of the North Tower Circle, he commented, "The cause is still under investigation." Samples of an accelerant found at the North Tower Circle have been sent to a state lab for testing. MacAlpine also explained that in cases where accelerants are discovered at a fire scene, the testing is quite extensive. First the lab must determine what the chemical properties of any samples collected are. After that process is complete, it must then be determined whether or not the substance(s) are ignitable, combustible, or flamable. Once that’s complete it is then the job of investigators to determine whether or not the substance(s) could have ignited naturally, or whether there is a possibility of arson. The time in investigating such an instance as this is undetermined at this point.
Regarding the fire at the Bail-U-Out Bail Bonds business, owners had recently had security cameras installed, and fire investigators have retrieved the recorder, which may or may not contain footage of a possible suspect related to that fire.
GayFresno.com would like to thank the local, state and national media for picking up the stories on all three fires. It’s encouraging to know our local media, and media outside of the area are working with people in our city to adequately report these instances, and the potential that at least two of them could be possible anti-gay violence. In the best interest of our community, i’m confident in saying most of us hope this is not the case.