Families displaced after San Jose townhouse complex fire; arson being investigated

Lauren Martinez Image
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Families displaced after SJ townhouse fire; arson being investigated
Families are out of their homes and figuring out what to do next after a fire ripped through a row of townhomes in San Jose on Friday evening.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Families are out of their homes and figuring out what to do next after a fire ripped through a row of townhomes in San Jose on Friday evening.

Fire officials say out of seven units, five were heavily damaged.

Elmer Pimentel could barely get the word "shocked" out when we interviewed him just moments after his home went up in flames.

PREVIOUS REPORT: 4-alarm fire heavily damages homes in San Jose; nearly 40 residents displaced, officials say

A four-alarm residential fire has done significant damage to some townhomes in San Jose Friday night, fire officials said.

He had barely enough time to get his mother-in-law out safely.

"I cannot look at the video at this point still - I can't it makes me feel really emotional," Pimentel said.

Elmer and his wife Maria Dominguez are one of several families displaced. They had lived in their home for 25 years. The couple are now staying at their daughter's home in Hollister.

"For the first time in my life, I feel violated," Elmer said.

The couple says in the last two years the neighborhood has really taken a turn for the worse - so they installed security cameras to feel safer.

One of their backyard security cameras caught the moment a mattress they had outside for the city to pick up lit on fire.

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Investigators are still trying to determine how this fire started, but this couple is convinced it's arson.

The couple says a man can be seen riding his bike back and forth.

"Within like two to four times that he went by, next thing you know a flare starts going up," Pimentel said.

Right now, his family is figuring what's next for them.

"We still have to continue working, our youngest daughter has to commute to work in Sunnyvale," Maria Dominguez said.

Dominguez said they still have a mortgage to pay.

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The HOA started a claim and said rebuilding will be a long a process.

"I know it's a process - we're going to be okay at the end but it's just the process," Pimentel said.

The couple's goal is to return to the neighborhood and get the area back to being safer. They hope the city is paying attention to what is happening.

"We need help, we need to clean this area up, it's not going to get any better if we don't do anything about it," Pimentel said.

The couple said family members and friends have offered tremendous support so far. One of their daughters created a Gofundme to help cover expenses during this time.

On Tuesday, the San Jose Fire Department says no new information is being released.

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