Trending Topics

Home Depot to pay $1.3M for code violations after fire destroys Calif. store

Non-functioning sprinklers and other violations had been discovered in the arson investigation of the San Jose fire


The Home Depot store on Blossom Hill Road destroyed by fire in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, April 10, 2022.

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

By Robert Salonga
Bay Area News Group

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Home Depot will pay $1.3 million after an investigation found that a bevy of fire code violations, including non-functioning sprinklers, helped a 2022 arson fire completely destroy a South San Jose store and pollute the air for several days in surrounding neighborhoods, authorities said.

That dollar amount includes $850,000 in civil penalties and $150,000 that will go toward fire prevention education and outreach in the South Bay, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. It was the DA’s Bureau of Investigations that examined reported failures in fire suppression systems at the home-improvement giant’s Blossom Hill Road location, which was leveled by fast-moving flames on April 9, 2022.

“Fire code violations are potential tragedies in waiting. Ignoring them isn’t just risky; it’s reckless,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “It risks far more than property. It risks lives.”

An investigation, which was headed by the San Jose Fire Department and grew to include the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, determined that the fire was deliberately set in the store’s lumber section. Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 29, has been charged with arson and is being held without bail in the Elmwood men’s jail in Milpitas, though his case has remained in an early plea-entering stage in the two years since.

A police investigation contends that Gogue was attempting to steal items from the store and set the fire as a distraction. He has also been charged with theft-related crimes at other retailers in the area before the blaze occurred.

While authorities seemed to have the source of the fire nailed down swiftly, big questions lingered about how and why the fire was able to spread throughout the nearly 99,000-square-foot property — and seriously threaten the lives of hundreds inside the store — instead of being isolated to near its point of origin. Fleeing store occupants reported never seeing the sprinklers go off as the five-alarm blaze consumed the store and $17 million in inventory, and caused building losses estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

In the fire’s aftermath, this news organization uncovered records of several fire code violations recorded at the store in the previous two years, including a December 2020 citation for failing to provide proof of recent inspections of its fire alarm and sprinkler systems.

Preplanning your fire response area:
Gordon Graham discusses the importance of preplanning a fire service area, and the benefits that come when fire departments make it a goal to preplan 100% of their jurisdiction

In a Monday news release, the district attorney’s office stated that the violations uncovered by its investigators in a post-fire probe hampered firefighters’ efforts to save the building. Chief among them was a finding that the store was notified that its sprinkler system was not working, and did not take any actions to restore its functionality.

Additionally, the office said its investigation discovered various instances of fire code violations in 13 other Home Depot stores in Santa Clara County. The news release stated that Home Depot cooperated with investigators, and after being presented with their findings “took action in curing all outstanding fire code violations at its stores in the county and implemented new training and tracking methods to ensure future compliance.”

A Home Depot spokesperson sent a statement in response to a request for comment about the case Monday: “Our number one concern is the safety and wellbeing of our associates and customers, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with the district attorney to make sure all of our facilities are as safe as possible.”

The roughly $1.3 million payout by the company, on top of the civil fines and fire education contributions, will also compensate the San Jose Fire Department and other fire agencies that responded to and investigated the 2022 fire.

©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Visit at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.