Alleged Teens’ Fireworks Torch Office Building

A fire allegedly caused by unauthorized fireworks engulfed a single-story office building on the north-west corner of South and East streets. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

The smoke had barely settled after Redding’s public fireworks display when an office building at 1212 South St. became engulfed in flames, allegedly from teens’ fireworks.

Flames could be seen shooting from vent openings and bursting through the building’s roof as multiple firefighters battled the blaze.

A crowd of about a dozen people milled about on the south-east corner of South and East streets. Some discussed the fire. Some discussed the “kids” responsible for the blaze. Yet others spoke with fire officials.

According to one man, who lives in an apartment complex kitty corner from the cinder-block building, he heard several fireworks explosions that were loud enough to prompt him to race outside.

“I saw huge flames and sparks everywhere,” he said. “I called 911 at 11:32 and the fire trucks were here in literally two minutes.”

Other neighbors claimed that three or four teen boys erected and ignited three large fireworks displays set up on diamond-shape frameworks, one at each corner of the South and East intersection, with the exception of the south-west corner.

Another man said that the “kids” who set off the fireworks were known as being “trouble-makers” in the area, though he didn’t know their names.

One woman said that shrubs in front of the United Methodist Church caught fire and were extinguished by neighbors, and that residents threw dirt on glowing embers that had fallen upon apartment complex planters.

According to Michael J. Bachmeyer, Redding Fire Department Division Chief, although fireworks were the suspected cause of the blaze, he couldn’t say for certain until the investigation’s completion. He speculated that the building may have a common attic for the trio of units, which would have explained the speed with which the fire spread from one end of the building to the other.

Bachmeyer said it was possible the blaze started near the base of the building, and worked its way up toward the roof.

The building, constructed in the late ’60s, has three, 1,000-square-foot units. One unit has been vacant for about a year. The other two units are occupied by a dentist and a civil engineer.

The building is owned by former Redding residents Jim and Darcie Gore, now of Elk Grove. The Gores have owned the building since 1990.

Fire at 1212 South Street in Redding. Video by Shelly Shively.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Daryl and Penny says:

    As former firefighters and current appreciators of A Newscafe, we are impressed with your coverage of this story, Doni. Good work. Thanks. Also our thanks to our super local firefighters.

  2. Yikes! Too close to home!

  3. Avatar Canda says:

    Great coverage, Doni. Thank goodness lives weren't lost in this fire, but what a shame about the building and lost businesses.