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Fresno fire crews seeing spike in fires during pandemic

News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Fresno fire fighters are dealing with a staggering increase of fires.

Public information officer, Shane Brown with the Fresno Fire Department says there are a lot of different factors, but the pandemic may be one of them.

“Some contributing factors we believe is that more people are at home, so there’s more accidents, we’re seeing fires that are unintentional in nature. Just in the last few days we saw a handful of garage fires,”Brown said.

The department is seeing a spike in all types of fires across the board.

Fire calls are up nearly 60% percent over this time last year. The department said last week they responded to 31 structure fires, and 34 grass fires.

Brown said weather conditions have a role in many fires along the freeways they believe are accidental, but he said the department is also on the lookout for ones which may not be.

“That was a national notice that went out just to be aware of the spike in arson we have heard of some instances in some cities around the nation where they’re seeing an increase in arson in commercial structures,” he said.

Deputy Fire Marshal Jay Tracy said so far this year the department has handled 97 arson related events.

“There’s a coupe of incidents we’ve had recently where people we’ve arrested they’ve went into the jail only to be released on either the zero bail or some of the other COVID requirements the jail has been forced to implement. So we’ve seen repeat offenses from a couple of our people,” he said.

The department can not point to one thing causing the sharp increase, but said it’s straining them, along with an already taxed community.

“Last month, I believe there were 104 residents displaced. That’s a significant number I mean in a city of our size to have 104 people lose their roof especially in the middle of a pandemic where they’re already potential hurting from the loss of income and other things. It’s terrible,” Brown said.

So far this year the fire department is reporting $7.6-million in fire losses along with 250 people displaced.

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