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Man charged in fire that razed California Home Depot, sent shoppers 'running for their lives'

The five-alarm April 9 blaze caused an estimated $17 million in inventory loss and was so intense it could be detected from space, officials said.

A California man has been charged with arson after being accused of lighting a five-alarm fire that destroyed a Home Depot in San Jose earlier this month as he tried to steal a cart full of tools, prosecutors announced. 

Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27, was hit with charges including aggravated arson, seven counts of grand theft and three counts of petty theft, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced in a news release.

Prosecutors said he intentionally lit the inferno in an aisle of the Home Depot on Blossom Hill Road on April 9. 

The flames sent "employees and customers running for their lives,” Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen said in a press conference Tuesday, razed the entire 98,827 square foot store, and caused an estimated $17 million in inventory loss, prosecutors said.

The fire was allegedly set the same day Gogue went on a "theft spree," prosecutors said.

Home Depot fire
San Jose City firefighters tackle a blaze at a Home Depot in San Jose, Calif., on April 9. Nhat V. Meyer / Media News Group via Getty Images

Gogue allegedly stole items from a local Bass Pro shop earlier in the day, lit the fire around 5:30 p.m local time (8:30 p.m. ET), and tried to leave Home Depot “with a cart containing tools," the news release stated.

He was stopped by a Home Depot employee and fled in another person’s car then later stole items from a nearby Macy’s. 

"Miraculously no one was hurt in this five-alarm fire that was so hot and so large that it could be detected from a satellite in space," Rosen said. "But it came close, far, far too close, to causing many injuries and deaths."

The National Weather Service’s San Francisco office said the heat signature was so large from the fire it was observed from space

More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze and it took 12 hours to quell, NBC Bay Area reported.

Photos from the aftermath show the charred remains of the Home Depot store with the roof collapsed and much of it burned to the ground.

Gogue was arrested Friday and was arraigned Tuesday afternoon. He did not enter a plea at the hearing, NBC Bay Area reported. He’s due back in court for a plea hearing June 1.

The maximum sentence for the charges are 14 years to life in prison if convicted, Rosen said.

Gogue's attorney Christopher Yuen told NBC News Wednesday afternoon: "At this point we’re thankful the fire caused no physical injury. We acknowledge the feelings by the community. He is presumed innocent. He is a member of our community and we stand behind by him in each step of the due process."

"We have not received all of the investigative materials from the district attorney’s office and we look forward to reviewing everything," he added.

“I am thankful to all the law enforcement partners who quickly brought this person to justice,” Rosen said in the release. “And I am thankful this was not a multiple murder case. This fire — set during business hours — could so easily have left bodies in the rubble. It was horribly reckless behavior, and we will prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.”

Home Depot told NBC News that the more than 180 employees working at the store were relocated to nearby locations after the fire. 

"We owe a great deal of thanks to the first responders, San Jose fire, police and partner organizations for their fast response and investigation that led to this arrest," spokesperson Margaret Smith said. 

"Above all, we’re thankful no one was harmed, and that all of our associates and customers are safe and accounted for," Smith said. "Thank you to our associates for the fast action and courage they showed to quickly evacuate the building, which ensured no one was harmed."