Alex Alvarado, 51, appeared at the Fresno County Courthouse Friday, for the first time since being arrested in connection to the crime. Dressed in a red jail jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him, he stood quietly as his attorney entered a "not guilty" plea on his behalf to a felony count of arson of an inhabited structure with a special enhancement from a prior conviction back in 2007.
The fire erupted just after 1:30 am Friday, February 10th, behind the Maribel Beauty Salon on Blackstone and McKenzie. Flames ripped through the rooftop, some as high as 20 feet into the air - forcing several people to evacuate the building and firefighters to fight the fire more defensively.
Action News talked with Alvarado shortly after the fire heavily damaged the business, as well as a couple of attached apartments located at the triplex.
"We lost everything, everything we had," Alvarado said in the interview. "I mean, so now if anyone could help us that would be good."
At the time, Alvarado touted himself as a hero, claiming he had carried his physically disabled friend Lisa outside the burning building. He also told us, he had just arrived at the home when he noticed flames coming from inside.
"I said hi, and I had to go to the restroom so I went to the restroom," he said. "When I opened the door to the restroom, the window was open. I just looked back to the closet and everything just caught fire real fast. I can't tell you what it was. I don't know what it was."
Fresno Police now believe Alvarado is to blame and claim he knew several people were inside the building when the fire broke out. He was originally arrested on charges of attempted murder, but so far prosecutors have only filed arson charges.
The arrest came just days after his roommates recovered what salvageable items they could find at their home and the owner of the beauty salon surveyed the damage of her business. While we were there, she found her cosmetology license and some paperwork among the rubble.
Alvarado now sits in jail on $105,000 dollars bail. His next court appearance is scheduled next week.