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Police: Man burned Home Depot to the ground to steal tools

The blaze destroyed the 11,000-square-foot store and over $17 million in inventory.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) — The man who set an enormous five-alarm fire at a Home Depot in San Jose did so to create a diversion so he could shoplift tools, city officials said during a Tuesday press conference. 

Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27, will be arraigned Tuesday afternoon after being arrested on Monday on charges he intentionally set the fire that grew into a tremendous blaze which was visible from space

“There was more than $17 million in inventory losses due to the fire,” said Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen during a press conference Tuesday. “It was horribly reckless and criminal behavior.”

There were no injuries or fatalities related to the incident, but Rosen said there were several close calls. 

Gogue fled the Home Depot after securing the tools, only to travel to Macy’s in the East Bay where he used the attention to the fire to give him cover to steal more items, officials said. During the spree he stole 45 pairs of Levi's jeans, a keyboard and guitar from Guitar Center and 14 pairs of sunglasses from a Sunglass hut, prosecutors said.

Gogue faces charges of aggravated arson, seven counts of grand theft and three counts of petty larceny. 

Rosen gave a press conference flanked by officials from the San Jose Fire Department, the police department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

“This is a team that came together within hours of Home Depot erupting into flames,” Rosen said. 

The 11,000-square-foot store on Blossom Hill Road is relatively close to San Jose’s central business district and had the fire erupted on a windy day rather than one of relative calm the toll on the community could have been dramatically worse. 

The April 9 blaze took 100 firefighters about 12 hours to quell. It prompted evacuations of nearby homes and businesses including about 60 pets from an animal shelter. 

Coincidentally, the fire at Home Depot erupted the same day as a large refinery in Richmond, which is also located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The refinery fire is not thought to be the result of arson, although an investigation is underway. 

Gogue faces a maximum of 14 years to life if convicted on all counts. 

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