“I'm swimming and see smoke so I'm all like thinking that someone's making a bbq but it was a fire!,” said Lydia Butler who witnessed the fire.
Firefighters say a child was playing with matches; A child who was too scared to call 911 when trouble started.
“If we could have got it sooner we could have responded sooner maybe stopped it at the apartment of origin,” said Clovis Fire Chief Mike Despain.
But crews relied on new technology to gain the upper hand on the fire.
Firefighters launched a small drone with a high definition camera in the undercarriage...
Independent photographer Chris Geiger controlled the drone from the ground.
Cameras captured the damage from hundreds of feet in the air…a collapsed roof and over a dozen charred apartments.
But others could see the smoke from miles away.
“Actually i was on the freeway on the 168 west and I see something burning but I didn't think it was my apartment complex,” said Janie Martinez whose apartment burned in the fire.
“The thing I was most worried about was my little Kitty and I came and talked to firefighter and they said they hadn't seen a cat and then neighbor saw cat run the other way,” said Akiko Miyake-Stoner whose cat ran away.
As she searched for her cat Kiki...people pulled out small pets ....a guinea pig, a lizard, puppies.
When they've lost everything...they don't have anything to feed their pet what we do is provide pet supplies on a temporary basis,” said Naomi Flam with the Central California Animal Disaster Team.
The red cross has also set people up with a place to stay.
And if you see Kiki the cat...call the animal disaster team at