Series of Fires at Abandoned Banning Buildings

Series of Fires at Abandoned Banning Buildings

KMIR

An abandoned business complex in Banning is posing a health and safety hazard according to the city’s chief of police.

Repeated fires have broken out in the buildings.
One of the fires over Labor Day weekend even impacted traffic on Interstate 10.  

It’s deja vu at the Banning Business Center with fire after fire.

Nine blazes began just this year, two since the start of September.

"The other day it was on fire, and my brother came running with a fire extinguisher and then came running out, and that palm tree right there was on fire," said Andrew Griffin, a Banning resident who lives across the Interstate from the complex.

Homeless people live in the abandoned buildings.
"We know that they are inhabited so it’s reasonable to assume that they’ve all been human caused, but all of these fires are still under investigation," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mike Smith.

You can see fire damage on all the buildings.

The Banning police chief says they’ve cited and fined the property owners.
"Unfortunately the project ceased the day they dropped off the elevators, I still remember," said Chief Alejandro Diaz.

The businesses were never finished, right now boards are being put up on some of the windows. The police chief will be going to the city council on Tuesday night, asking to get an attorney to put these buildings in receivership, to see them ultimately torn down.

"Because we haven’t had that voluntary compliance, then of course we’d have to move on to the next step which is disposing of the buildings somehow," said Chief Diaz.

After the initial investor failed, the property was sold by the county as three parcels to separate investors listed in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.
Police and fire say the buildings on West Lincoln Street are more than an eyesore.

"It’s a health hazard, it’s a safety hazard," said Chief Diaz.

Battalion fire chief Smith said, "Firefighters responding here time and time again, what we’re concerned about now is the potential for injury, these structures are all dilapidated, and all have been damaged by fire previously."

"They should probably just tear it down, it’s a problem, it’s just always catching on fire, people always going in there," said neighbor, Andrew Griffin.

The skeleton of this failed project is still haunting the city of Banning.