Someone launched a firecracker or other incendiary device outside a Chico hookah* lounge. Business owners told firefighters they believe they were targeted because of their Middle East ethnicity. But investigators with Chico Police and Fire Departments said there was no evidence of a hate crime.
*HOOKAH LOUNGE is an establishment where Muslims and bleeding heart American multiculturalists share shisha flavored tobacco from a communal hookah or nargile which is placed at each table. People of Middle Eastern or South Asian extraction consider them a continuation of their own cultural traditions
KRCRTV The fire burned outside the Fusion Hookah Lounge at 245 Walnut Street in Chico around 2:30 a.m. Thursday. The flames burned some Juniper bushes and a tree, but firefighters kept it from spreading to the building.
The owners and customers allegedly told firefighters two men in a pickup truck drove by yelling derogatory comments, and making gestures. Captain Dave Main of Chico Fire Department said none of the witnesses could tell investigators specifically what was said. But Main said they definitely felt the derogatory comments were based on their Middle Eastern ethnicity.
A few minutes later, the truck returned. Someone threw an incendiary device or firework from the truck into the bushes, sparking the fire that grew into large flames. Main said firefighters reviewed surveillance video but were not able to identify the vehicle or possible suspects.