Man charged with arson in connection to massive fire at a California Home Depot that could be seen from space, police say

By Amir Vera and Cheri Mossburg, CNN

The man accused of starting a huge fire that destroys a Home Depot in San Jose, Calif., earlier this month, faces multiple charges, including arson, according to prosecutors.

Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27, is charged with starting a fire while allegedly trying to steal tools on April 9, according to a Press release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

The flames “sent employees and customers running for their lives,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said at a press conference Tuesday.

Gogue allegedly started the fire and attempted to leave the store with a cart full of tools, but was stopped by an employee and fled, the statement said.

“The flames quickly engulfed and destroyed the entire 98,827 square foot store, causing an estimated $17 million in inventory loss,” the statement said.

The loss of the entire building is “tens of millions of dollars more,” Rosen noted at the press conference.

“I am grateful this is not a multiple murder case. This fire – started during office hours – could so easily have left bodies in the rubble,” Rosen said in the press release. .

Gogue was arrested on Friday, according to the statement from prosecutors.

In addition to arson, Gogue is charged with a series of robberies in the area dating back to October, according to court documents.

Gogue faces 10 counts, including aggravated arson, arson of an inhabited structure or property and robbery, as well as three misdemeanors of petty theft, according to charging documents.

During a court appearance on Tuesday, Gogue pleaded not guilty and was held without bond.

“We are happy that there were no physical injuries,” Gogue’s attorney, Christopher Yuen, told CNN. “We respect the strong feelings of the community and are waiting for investigative documents to arrive.”

If convicted, Gogue could face 14 years to life in prison, according to Rosen. He is due to enter a plea at a court hearing on June 1.

The heat signature of fire seen from space

The five-alarm fire was reported around 5 p.m. on April 9, KGO, affiliated with CNN reported.

“The Home Depot is pretty much a total loss, the roof is pretty much collapsed from the entire structure,” San Jose Fire Department Battalion Chief Brad Cloutier told KGO at the time.

Two nearby homes were also damaged by the massive fire, according to the complaint against Gogue.

During the first hours of the fire, the heat signature was so large that it could be observed from space, according to the San Francisco Office of the National Weather Service.

“We are grateful that no one was injured and that all of our associates and customers are safe and cared for,” Home Depot spokeswoman Margaret Smith told CNN. “Thank you to our associates for the quick action and courage they showed to quickly evacuate the building, resulting in no injuries.”

Home Depot has not announced whether it will rebuild the store, but the 180 displaced employees have all been relocated to other stores in the area according to their preference, Smith said.

“We are indebted to first responders, San Jose firefighters, police and partner organizations for their quick response and investigation that led to this arrest,” she added.

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CNN’s Caroline Kucera contributed to this report.

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