Gutted strip mall was blight of South Hayward neighborhood

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Neighbors say they saw it coming -- a big fire at an abandoned strip mall in Hayward last night. It's a building that's become a magnet for the homeless, especially in the cold weather. (KGO-TV)

Neighbors say they saw it coming -- a big fire at an abandoned strip mall in Hayward Wednesday night. It's a building that's become a magnet for the homeless, especially in the cold weather.

Not wanting to take any chances, cadaver dogs from Alameda County Sheriffs combed through the rubble Thursday morning.


"Just double-checking, making sure we haven't missed anything," said Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras. "There's a lot of fire load in the building."

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"There was a car fire here two months ago." Neighbors like Brian Greenlee say they complain about the mall often. "Especially with this cold winter, we have witnessed them building many fires inside the building. Many of us have called the fire department countless times."

The Hayward Fire Department has responded to 38 911 calls to the building since 2005, five for fires. It's an ongoing situation the chief says and one that poses a clear threat.

"It's absolutely one of our biggest concerns," explained Chief Contreras. "It's something that keeps me awake at night, often times."

This fire comes just three months after the city council here approved a plan to redevelop the site.

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"It's 35 town homes, 39 apartments and about 2500 square feet of commercial development," said Chuck Finnie, spokesman for the City of Hayward.

"This is probably the second or third time that they've claimed there's a plan for that property," said a skeptical Greenlee.

The fire might finally mark the end for the building. ABC7 News talked with a representative for the owner, DNS Capital Partners LLC who told us he's working with the city to expedite permits to demolish the building as soon as next week.

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