"The arson of an occupied building is a very serious felony and he could be charged per count per person in there," said Atwater Police Department Interim Chief Drew Bessinger.
Security cameras inside the target captured the 42-year-old with a shopping cart full of items before he went out of view on the toilet paper aisle.
Moments later he was seen leaving the store without the cart and that is when the fire was discovered.
Firefighters arrived around 9 p.m. and quickly extinguished the flames.
All employees and shoppers made it out safely but officials say smoke damage from the fire is extensive throughout the building.
"A 173,000 square foot is a big area. It's about four football fields put together if you look at it that way with charred smoke all the way down to the ground, "said CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Justin Wight
#HappeningNow - Cleanup continues at the Atwater Super Target after a fire broke out last night around 8:30. We’ll have the latest on the fire coming up on AM Live at 5:30 and in our 6 o’clock hour. pic.twitter.com/wFiAOJuNji— Gilbert Magallon (@GilbertABC30) August 8, 2018
The store remained closed Wednesday as crews continue to clean up from the fire.
Shoppers who arrived were turned away.
"I don't know why. What's the purpose of setting it on fire? It's just crazy," said Bessinger.
Investigators are still working on a motive for the arson as Target officials are hoping to re-open the superstore as soon as possible
Target spokesperson Danielle Schumann released this statement:
"We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage guests to visit our nearby Turlock and Merced stores. Our goal is to open as soon as we can for our team members and guests."