One arrest in the Diamond Match fire, more to come

After arresting a 16-year-old boy for starting the Nov. 20 fire that burned a historic lumber warehouse at the Diamond Match Co. property in south Chico, police and fire investigators are still trying to determine if there was a connection between that fire and an Aug. 2 fire on the property that destroyed the old apiary building.

Police are gathering more information, and Chico police Sgt. Dave Barrow said, “We expect we will be, probably, charging one or two [additional] individuals with arson.”

Police were provided with information from different sources and witnesses, Barrow said. The teen was allegedly in or near the 34,000-square-foot warehouse building where the fire started with other people. The teen was arrested Nov. 23 and charged with unlawfully causing a fire. Pending further investigation, Barrow said that charge could change to the more serious one of intentionally causing a fire.

Two types of arson-related charges exist, Barrow said: arson, which implies a malicious intent, and unlawfully causing a fire, which suggests a lack of malicious intent.

Marie Frickert, Chico fire prevention inspector, said that both fires are considered suspicious and the cause and origin investigation is ongoing.

The fires have destroyed two important buildings in a small cluster of historic buildings that was a central part of a development plan, by Barber Land Company, that included turning the area into a community neighborhood combining commercial, industrial, residential and public uses. The architect’s renderings, found on, show a greenbelt, loft neighborhood, single-family neighborhood and even a few roundabouts.

The most important loss, Barrow said, was the historical value of the buildings.