Man starts fire at Printery building in Atascadero
Smoke from abandoned historical building raises concern
Citizens in the vicinity of the Printery building in Atascadero, shared concern on Facebook Sunday afternoon after seeing smoke coming from the abandoned historic building.
Atascadero City Fire Department personnel responded to the call just after 2 p.m. and found Phillip Martinez, 39, asleep or passed out next to a fire that was six feet by six feet in a room at the back of the Printery along West Mall, Atascadero Police Department Robert Mollé said. He said it is believed that Martinez is homeless or a transient and somehow got through the fence around the Printery and into the building through one of the many broken windows and started the fire to stay warm. It rained off and on Sunday.
Mollé said Martinez was not injured and was transported to San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of reckless fire and lodging without permission. No further information is available at this time.
The Printery building’s fate is currently uncertain as it is still under the ownership of Kelly Gearhart who is serving 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. However, local residents have formed a nonprofit group, Atascadero Printery Foundation, to save the Printery.