HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- Hayward Firefighters got a call at 5 a.m. Monday that the Chalk It Up pool hall on Foothill Boulevard was on fire. When they arrived, they say it was huge and had likely been burning for awhile.
"Unfortunately we had to back out because the fire had progressed. We weren't making any headway so we backed out went to a defensive mode," said Captain Don Nichelson with the Hayward Fire Department.
The business owner won't be surprised if homeless people are to blame. He says they have been causing problems on the roof for so long, businesses in the area even have a term for them.
"Roof crawlers. You can hear them jump around, go in the air conditioning unit, turn things off sometimes," Keith Burks said.
Burks owns Chalk It Up and is the property manager. Chalk It Up is located in a strip mall with other businesses.
The owner of the salon next door was waiting anxiously to find out how much damage was done to her business. She was also quick to mention the homeless issue.
"The homeless is a big problem right now during COVID-19 because (there's) nobody. the businesses are closed and nobody is in the street so they are so happy," Lydia Chen said.
The fire department did evacuate two people inside the building. The fire spokesperson did not know if they are squatters.
"There were a couple people taken out of the building that were woken up by us going in to check on them," Captain Nichelson said.
Chalk It Up's owner says they've been trying to stay positive during the pandemic and were even planning for the day when they could re-open.
"We have been closed since March. We have been just starting to prepare to reopen, clean the place up, put some new pool tables in, social distancing, moved the tables around, trying to get ready to go," Burks said. He had also installed new bowling lanes.
Now he faces having to start over.
Firefighters are still investigating the fire's cause. As of 11 a.m., Foothill Boulevard was closed between A Street and C Street.
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