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Suspect arrested in connection with fire that destroyed four Palm Desert businesses

Update 4/16/24

CAL FIRE announced that a suspect was arrested in connection with the fire.

The suspect, a 30-year-old woman, is facing multiple charges including arson. She's been booked by CAL FIRE Prevention Officers into the Smith Detention Center in Banning, where she remains on $100,000 bail.

Original Report 4/14/24

Cal Fire is still on scene of a commercial structure fire that destroyed four businesses on Country Club Drive and Monterey Avenue in Palm Desert. The four businesses affected include D’ Coffee Bouteaque, Papa Dan's Pizza & Pasta, Miracle-Ear Hearing Aid Center, and Reverse Mortgage Works.

"I mean, look at it is gone. There's nothing there," said Miriam Rodriguez, owner of D'Coffee Bouteaque. Miriam and her husband watched as fire fighters put out the last embers of the major commercial fire. For Rodriguez, seeing her beloved coffee shop reduced to rubble was emotional and overwhelming.

"I think I went blank," she said. "I just look around. And I take pictures in my head. And I start thinking about what it looked like before, and what it looks like now."

According to Cal Fire, the fire started around 3:45 a.m. on Sunday inside of a 30,000 sq. ft building in a strip mall. That strip mall is located along Country Club Drive and Monterey Avenue. Six nearby residents were temporarily evacuated as firefighters worked to contain the fire.

“The first arriving engine reported the front and the top of the building well involved with heavy fire and smoke," said Maggie Cline DeLarosa, PIO of CALFIRE Riverside County Fire. "They showed the fire knocked down in about 90 minutes or so maybe a little bit longer."

This video taken by viewer, Paul Aimbez, shows the fire when it was still active earlier Sunday morning:

The fire was contained shortly after 5:00 AM.

Friends, family members and coworkers surrounded Miriam, as firefighters continued to put out small spot fires around the property.

"Hopefully the community will help put them back together again," said Dawn Cirocco, a family friend. "They need help because of their livelihood and all the beautiful thing she had in there. And we love them both. They've done so much for this community.”

According to officials, one person was hurt while Sunday morning.

"We did have one sheriff's deputy who was transported to the hospital with a minor injury. And there's no other injuries reported to civilians or firefighters," said DeLarosa.

Michael Meyer

Fire crews remained on scene throughout the day as overhaul and salvage efforts continued. Officials are asking you to avoid the area for now.

"There are still lots of companies working especially in the area of like the Bristol Farms and the restaurants there, so we just asked people avoid the area if they're able to," said DeLarosa.

Now, Miriam and her husband are turning their attention to their employees.

"We are definitely going to need support," they said. "Because our employees, they're not employees, our family to us, our literal soldiers. They make this place run to make everybody happy. But we're gonna need help because they lost their jobs. Now, they're gonna be out of work for a long time."

Rodriguez says they are planning to rebuild, and hope the other business owners are able to do the same.

"We're not gonna be worried we're gonna rebuild. We're gonna help each other," she said. "We're going to ask for the help of everybody else, of course. And and see what happens.”

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.

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