Employee under arrest after fire at tire store


At first that man was under detention, but by the end of the night he was officially under arrest and in the county jail in Martinez. He faces charges of using illegal fireworks, starting a fire, and injuring two of his former coworkers.

The fire began around 4 p.m. and ended around 6:15 p.m. After the fire, some people were angry.

Robert Akolo said nothing was left. He who could only sit and look at the shell of what used to be his classic car and motorcycle restoration business.

It all burned and was consumed by 30-foot high flames and acrid black smoke. The fire began in the Blue Star Tire store, next door. It went quickly to four alarms. Firefighters had to string long lines to get water on it. For two hours, they took what they describe as a defensive mode.

"These guys usually sit there and paint tires with gasoline and tar mix to make them newer looking, the used tires. And one of my guys said they heard some popping back there that sounded like a loud explosion," said Julio Cardoza, a business owner.

"One of them lit some firecrackers to try to scare the guy that was painting the tires and everything blew up," said Akolo.

Witnesses say this should not have happened at all.

Later, police took one of those employees into custody for questioning. The fire injured two people and damaged six businesses, including Akolo's. He has no insurance, estimates the loss to be at least $100,000.

"All I can do is laugh to keep from crying, man. That's all I can do," said Akolo's.

Contra Costa County Fire authorities released the name of the man they arrested -- Rajnesh Reddy, 32, from Pittsburg. He is an employee at the tire store.

The investigation will resume on Wednesday.

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