ROSEVILLE — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in a Placer County suburb after part of the Roseville Galleria mall was set on fire, causing at least $6 million dollars in damage.
Crime scene investigators arrived on the scene Friday morning sifting through the debris in search for a backpack the suspect, 23-year-old transient Alexander Piggee, was wearing when he reportedly made disturbing comments to customers and set a fire inside the GameStop Thursday morning.
“When the roof collapsed it fell under debris so there is still a chance the backpack is still intact if the debris was able to protect it enough from the fire,” said Roseville police Lt. Mike Doane.
Shortly after Piggee was arrested, the bomb squad was called out to search the contents of the backpack but flames erupted before it could be accessed, forcing firefighters to aggressively attack the fire from outside the mall.
Officials said about 20 of the Galleria’s stores were destroyed. Two anchor stores located near the fire’s origin, Macy’s and J.C. Penney, were not as severely damaged. Smoke, water and fire damage was limited in the rest of the 1.3 million square-foot mall.
Roseville city leaders pledged to make a speedy recovery. Ray Kerridge, the city manager in Roseville, said on Friday the unburned portions of the Westfield Galleria at Roseville could reopen within weeks.
Family members and friends claimed Piggee was mentally disturbed and tried to seek help but was turned away.
Piggee was booked into the Placer County Jail on charges of suspicion of arson, arson under conditions likely to cause great bodily injury, burglary, and making criminal threats.
He is being held without bail and will be arraigned at 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25.