Homeless man sentenced to five years in prison for Peach Tree Mall arson

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Dec. 4—Yuba County Superior Court Judge Julia Scrogin sentenced a homeless man to five years, eight months in state prison on Monday for the arson of the former Peach Tree Mall and making a criminal threat to his girlfriend, according to a Yuba County District Attorney's Office Facebook post.

Thomas P. Wright, 32, was arrested on Oct. 2 after being pulled out of the vacant building in the 6000 block of Lindhurst Avenue, Linda, that was on fire at around 5:30 a.m. Wright intentionally set fire to the squatter encampment he shared with his girlfriend inside the old mall building. They had been having an argument and Wright threatened to burn them both alive, according to the district attorney's office.

Law enforcement said Wright lit insulation and other materials on fire inside the building. Linda Fire Protection District Chief Kyle Heggstrom said at the time that the third of the building that caught fire collapsed and the roof structure burned completely. The district attorney's office said Friday that the current owners of the property are working to remove the hazardous waste and demolish approximately 178,000 square feet that was damaged by the fire — about half of the mall's original 400,000 square feet of retail space.

The mall was built in 1972 and was damaged in a 1986 flood that forced thousands of people to evacuate the Linda area. The mall was a community retail mall before hosting Yuba County Health and Human Services employees and then becoming unoccupied, according to Appeal archives.

Wright pleaded no contest to arson and making criminal threats on Oct. 27. He has been in custody since Oct. 2. The DA's office said Wright had a history of drug and theft crimes, including multiple prior felonies.

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