FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Fresno firefighters are kicking off what could be another record-breaking year.
“Last year we had a huge record number of fire, everything, homeless specifically we saw like a 95% increase,” Shane Brown with the Fresno Fire Department said.
The new year is not bringing any relief. Brown said so far there have been 223 fires in the city and 123 have been caused by homeless activity — A 71% increase from last year. He said many times they’ll respond to the same buildings over and over, putting everyone at greater risk.
“Those buildings, like I said, once they’re impacted by fire the structural members are weakened, the roof is more prone to collapse, the floors often times they collapse, they have holes in them,” he said.
The surge in homeless related fires comes on top of an already busy time. Several fires broke out Monday. One on Blackstone and Terrace was knocked down quickly. Crews said there were several separate fires both outside and inside. The cause is still under investigation.
“The building was open. According to neighbors people have been in and out for the last few weeks, in and out of the building, different people,” Mike Gilbert a Fresno Fire battalion chief said.
Brown encourages people to use the FresGo app to report vacant homes they’re concerned about, and hopefully prevent fires before they happen.
“If you go on there take a photo, get as much information as you can, be very specific about what you’re describing. If you see people breaking into vacant homes that are supposed to be boarded up or secured,” he said.