2nd fire at International Foods in Riverside under investigation following January racist threats

International Foods in Riverside
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International Foods in Riverside

Riverside police and fire are investigating an early Thursday fire at International Foods and Xuan Vietnamese-Thai Cuisine.

Riverside Fire Chief Daniel Stitzel said crews who responded around 5:35 a.m. found a small fire between the ceiling and the roof of the building at 4770 Airway Road. The fire caused damage to wood trusses and the insulation, he said.

No one was hurt.

The same location was the subject of racist graffiti last month. Owners of the restaurant and the international market next door came to work on Jan. 26 to find racist graffiti about the coronavirus on the property and the smell of gasoline.

Stitzel said they are taking that prior incident into consideration. The cause of the fire has not been determined yet.

Thu Mai, the daughter of the owner of International Foods, said she and her family are not sure as of Thursday what was the cause of the fire.

“We are waiting on the reports before we can conclude if it is connected to the previous incident,” she said.

ExploreThai restaurant and international market in Riverside damaged by attempted fire, graffiti

In the January incident, the properties were damaged sometime between Jan. 25 night and Jan. 26, according to a Riverside Police report. The report also says a maintenance person discovered a fire in the range hood of the restaurant that damaged the hood.

The police report from the January incident says the owner of International Foods, Ban Van Mai, showed police video of two men climbing a ladder on the side of the building at around 2 a.m. to get closer to a security camera and cover it with black spray paint.

In January, Thu Mai said her family was targeted in racial slurs because they are Asian American. She said her family has complete faith in the police to do their jobs and that the people who vandalized the building would be brought to justice. She called the incident “domestic terrorism,” and noted the people who committed the crime were trying to cause her family bodily harm.

The owners of the Thai restaurant next door, Noppadol Mangmeesub and his wife, Kanokwan Mangmeesub, said they were frightened after the incident and worried that the perpetrators would come back.