Someone sprayed a rack of Halloween costumes with lighter fluid and set them on fire inside a Bay Area Walmart store on Tuesday afternoon, police said, forcing the store to close and customers to evacuate while authorities investigated.
The suspect took the lighter fluid from a store shelf before using it to douse the Halloween section before starting the fire, police said. Frightened witnesses called 911.
Store security managed to apprehend the suspect before police arrived, Lt. McManus said.
The store, at 15555 Hesperian Blvd., has since been closed while San Leandro police and Alameda County firefighters investigate. According to McManus, there is still a strong odor from the fire at the store.
“We are still reviewing surveillance video from the store, interviewing witnesses and evaluating evidence, hoping to piece this incident together,” Lt. McManus said. “Although we don’t know how many customers and employees were in the store when the fire started, we do know that it was a very dangerous situation that placed others in danger."
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the store was evacuated but referred further questions to San Leandro police.
Video posted to Twitter by user @JustPaulMiller appeared to show a store employee extinguishing the blaze.
“A lot of families were in the store purchasing items for Halloween,” Miller said. “That’s something that’s heartbreaking.”
No one was injured, authorities said.
The motive for the arson is not yet known.