Fire at San Jose Home Depot: Neighbor’s $5,000 backyard daycare renovation destroyed

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — In the South Bay, it has been more than 24 hours since an arrest was announced in the fire that destroyed a San Jose Home Depot store.

Wednesday, neighbors near the now-destroyed store say they are relieved but still traumatized.

Less than two weeks later, video of the fire that ripped through this Home Depot store is still just as chilling. Behind this massive fire is an entire neighborhood of homes with neighbors watching in disbelief as the fire burned.

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“The flames got higher and higher and looked like a tsunami coming our way and that freaked me out,” neighbor Cathy Gabbett said.

“The embers falling from the sky, the panic,” neighbor Dee Brown said, “it was pretty scary.”

Neighbor Sherrie Butts lives directly across from the Home Depot store, where she says smoke suddenly started pouring through her open windows.

“I couldn’t see ahead because the smoke was so thick over my house,” Butts said. “I couldn’t even find my dog.”

Butts runs a daycare from home. The Friday before the fire, she had just completed a $5,000 project to remodel the backyard for her kids.

The fire destroyed it.

VIDEO: As the FBI helps with the SJ Home Depot fire investigation, industry experts share insights into the process

Still, she finds things to be thankful for, her house still standing and the fact that the fire happened on a Saturday when her kindergarten kids weren’t there.

“If by any chance this had been another day I would have had eight kids here,” Butts said, “Yes, my community would have come together, I would have taken them to their safe zone, but I would have done it to deal with their parents, trying to get here.”

Suspect Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, charged with aggravated arson and theft, faces 14 years to life in prison.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney says Gogue set the fire as a diversion to steal tools from the store.

Gogue is also charged with other thefts dating back at least to October last year.

RELATED: Feds on site at SJ Home Depot to help with fire investigation

ABC7 was able to obtain surveillance video of him at a store in Eastridge Mall in San Jose stealing a $270 wig.

Neighbors still have questions about the blaze, particularly reports from around the area that the store’s fire suppression system was not working as it should.

So far, officials have only said it’s under investigation.

With a suspect in custody, there is initially a sense of relief.

“He has to go away for a long time,” said neighbor Dave Gabbett, “he almost destroyed the neighborhood.”

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