Fresno veteran who lost house to fire burglarized one week later

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — The Fresno man whose house went up in flames from suspected illegal fireworks one week ago was hit with a second blow Friday.

James Verdugo said he was on his way back from viewing a potential apartment when he drove by his house, saw his door was open, and knew something was wrong.

“It’s just sad that people have that ugliness in their hearts that could come to somebody’s home that’s been burned down and you know that somebody’s dealing with such a tragedy and you could sit here and try to take the little things that we have left,” Verdugo said.

Firefighters believe someone shooting off illegal fireworks sparked the flames which took Verdugo’s house last Friday.

“Everything we worked for it’s gone within the blink of an eye and the sad thing is we had no part in this,” Richard Martinez his roommate said.

Miraculously firefighters were able to save Verdugo’s beloved bulldog Sampson, who’s always there for the army veteran with PTSD

Verdugo and Martinez were trying to move forward, when they were met with another setback exactly one week later.

“We come inside and there’s a hole in the wall and we could tell the house had been ransacked,” Verdugo said.

He said after the fire they couldn’t take everything out at once and have been going back to grab belongings. Then they found someone went in and helped themself.

“It’s horrible. It’s horrible man, but like I said maybe they need it more than us right now, it is what it is and all we can do is keep on moving forward,” Martinez said.

Verdugo said he’s still piecing together exactly what was taken, but said this loss may hurt more than the first.

“I mean the fire was way more devastating but at least I feel like illegal fireworks, I don’t think anybody tried to set the house on fire. You know? They were being irresponsible obviously, but this is like somebody intentionally came in here,” he said.

Verdugo still said he’s fortunate and thankful. The community covered Sampson’s vet bills, and he’s been overwhelmed with donations, kind words and support.

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