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About 50 Fresno Firefighters Battled Two Large Fires

Fresno fire crews were kept busy Saturday battling a three-alarm fire at a vacant downtown building and a two-alarm residential fire in Calwa. Both fires went on at the same time. The fire department had to suspend response to medical emergencies and let American Ambulance handle those calls, as resources were tied up battling the two large fires. The downtown fire knocked out power to nearby Chukchansi park until the evening ahead of the Fresno Grizzlies game, impacting operations.
Fresno fire crews say they will remain on scene to put out smoke and embers at the vacant building on G and Tulare streets.
Fresno fire crews say they will remain on scene to put out smoke and embers at the vacant building on G and Tulare streets.

Fresno firefighters are investigating the causes of two large fires that kept crews busy throughout the day.

The first broke out around 10 a.m. in a vacant building in downtown Fresno on G and Tulare streets. The second was a residential fire in Calwa near Ninth Street.

No injuries were reported at either fires.

Between both fires, about 50 firefighters were needed to contain the blazes.

At the three-alarm fire downtown, firefighters used a defensive strategy to contain the blaze.

"It's just not a safe building. We're not going to put any firefighters in this building or in an exposure next to it," says Fire Chief Kerri Donis with the Fresno Fire Department.

About 20 firefighters responded to that fire that was just down the street from Chukchansi Park, where many people were already lining up to buy tickets for the evening's Fresno Grizzlies baseball game.

"We were curious--hopefully it wasn't the stadium. And we just kind of followed the smoke," says Debra Nechbatal who was on her way to purchase baseball tickets at Chukchansi Park.

At the same time, another two dozen firefighters responded to a residential fire that displaced a family in Calwa.

The fire started in an alleyway and affected four homes and damaged at least two vehicles.

With crews battling the two large blazes, firefighters had to suspend response to medical emergencies, letting American Ambulance handle those calls, according to Donis.

"We are really short of resources in the city at this time," Donis says.

While firefighters put out hotspots at the vacant building downtown, the fire knocked out power at Chukcansi park for several hours.

"Our system is completely online, so we can't process payments, we can't even look at the seats that are available. The food is also impacted--food services," says Ryan Young, media relations coordinator for the Fresno Grizzlies. 

Grizzly staff wrote out tickets by hand, as the printers waited to power up. 

Power returned around 5:30 p.m., and the game time was pushed back a half hour.

Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of both fires and to estimate the dollar value of damage caused.

Fire crews expect to remain at the downtown fire scene overnight to put out smoke and embers.

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Fresno, CA

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