Families were forced out of their homes Thursday evening, as a fire quickly spread to six buildings near Downtown Fresno. Fire officials say approximately 20 people are displaced.
Firefighters responded to a four-alarm fire just after 5:30 Thursday on the 2900 block of East Iowa Street. Officials say the fire started in a garage, then spread to four homes and an apartment complex.
“It started out with a detached garage with multiple buildings in close proximity to the garage,” Fresno City Fire Department Deputy Chief Todd Tuggle said
Nearly 40 firefighters battled the blaze and quickly got it under control.
Lisa Van was in her home, about to take a nap with her six month old son when the fire started.
“I just was so scared,” Van said. “I just started to smell something and I seen a fire red color near the window sill. That’s when I started to hear a loud pop. I just grabbed my six month old and I ran out the house because I panicked.”
Van’s home is right in front of her garage, where the fire originated. As the fire broke out, Paola Napoles and her boyfriend were leaving their home just across the street.
“We heard the young women screaming and we saw the smoke,” Napoles said. She and her boyfriend saw Van running out of her home with her baby. They helped her call 911, then realized there were other neighbors still in their homes.
“I was worried about everybody else around, there was some neighbors that were kind of in disbelief. I kept saying ‘get out, get out’.” Napoles said.
The pair helped evacuate the residents as firefighters got the fire under control. Van’s parents have lived in their home for more than two decades.
“Nobody want this to happen, but it happened,” Khun Van said.
The family of six isn’t sure what is left inside their home, but Van says she is thankful for two humble neighbors who served as heroes.
“It was a natural reaction, anybody would have done it,” Napoles said.
“I’m very thankful for them and very blessed they came to our rescue,” Van said.
Firefighters spend hours Thursday mopping up hot spots. Investigators say the fire appears to be accidental and possibly started on an outside stove that was left on.