Man sentenced for fire that destroyed multiple Visalia businesses

The flames burned through Décor to Adore, Alejandra's Restaurant, and Jimmy Johns, leaving only piles of debris.

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Saturday, November 19, 2022
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56-year-old Jessie Hager learned his fate in court Friday morning after admitting he started a fire in a dumpster in downtown Visalia seven months ago.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- 56-year-old Jessie Hager learned his fate in court Friday morning after admitting he started a fire in a dumpster in downtown Visalia seven months ago.

The flames burned through Décor to Adore, Alejandra's Restaurant, and Jimmy Johns, leaving only piles of debris.

The Visalia Police Department tracked Hager down and during his trial, surveillance video was shown and witnesses took the stand.

"We charged two separate counts of arson," says Supervising Deputy District Attorney Jessica Weatherly. "However, under the law, you can only be convicted of one and punished on one, so we opted for alternative charges. But he admitted guilt to arson in this case."

Hager's been out on probation and will now serve two more years of probation with a list of restrictions, which includes staying 50 yards away from downtown businesses.

Defense Attorney Megan Casebeer argued Hager is disabled and unemployed, but Judge Reyes asked Hager to make an effort and be open to possible work options first.

Casebeer sent Action News a statement, saying, "Mr. Hager is remorseful for the pain he caused the community and has taken responsibility for his actions. We are hopeful that our community members who were impacted by this fire will continue to heal."

As of now, we know the owners of Alejandra's Restaurant are working towards rebuilding.

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