Three women have been arrested for arson in connection with the fire that burned down a vacant Turlock cheese factory.
The women allegedly set the fire in an attempt to kill a man hiding in the rafters of the building, according to Turlock Police investigators.
Arrested for attempted murder and felony arson were: Lanette Sullivan, 46, of Turlock; Wanda White, 45, of Turlock; and Erika Clardy, 24, of Turlock.
The three women were inside the factory with a 32-year-old man Tuesday night. The man, who escaped the flames without injury, told Turlock investigators he and one of the women got into a verbal argument that turned into a physical assault.
The man said he was afraid of the women and hid himself in the rafters to escape them.
“Knowing he was hiding in the rafters, the females all conspired to set the building on fire using items in the building,” said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis.
Witnesses told the police several people were seen leaving the building at the time smoke started to pour from the roof.
The man was able to escape the fire and was held by the police as the fire raged. He was medically checked out at the scene and cleared.
It’s unknown what was used to ignite the fire, but the flames raced through the vacant building and eventually caused the roof to collapse.
The site was a regular spot for transients to take shelter in, according to the police department.
Investigators are looking to see if the second fire, located at the corner of W. Main Street and Clifford Avenue, is connected to the fire at 1400 W. Main Street.
“It’s too early to say if it is related,” Lewis said.
The police ask anyone with information about the fire to contact Detective Frank Navarro at 668-5550 ext. 6619.