WATSONVILLE — Watsonville firefighters on Friday responded to a blaze in a vacant building that is already slated for demolition.
According to Watsonville Fire Div. Chief. Corey Schaefer, the fire started inside the building, which formerly housed Taqueria Mundial.
Firefighters responded to a call at 1075 Main Street at 8:24 p.m.
The building had been boarded up, but was frequently used by transients who likely pried the boards to get inside. Several homeless people camp illegally behind the former taqueria, Schaefer said.
“The city and the property owner have been working hard to keep people out for a while,” he said.
On Monday afternoon, several people were behind the burned-out building, one of them tending a small fire. Piles of clothes, empty food packages and other garbage littered the ground the inside of the old taqueria and the wetland area behind it.
The first-alarm fire required five engines and a ladder truck, with crews from Watsonville Fire, Aptos/La Selva Fire and Central Fire.
When they arrived, firefighters saw heavy smoke and flames, Schaefer said.
The blaze has been determined to be suspicious in origin. It damaged about 50 percent of the building.
No injuries were reported, and nobody was on the property when firefighters arrived, Schafer said.
The Santa Cruz Seaside Company that owns the property plans to demolish the building, along with the building next door that held Street Scene, JV Towing and Eclipse Window Tint and Mi Ranchito Supermercado.
Water, gas and electricity had already been disconnected when the fire occurred, Schaefer said.
Karl Rice, president of the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, said that construction could begin at the end of 2019.
Once completed, the redeveloped property will hold three buildings that add up to roughly 15,000 square feet of space, featuring restaurants and other retail establishments.