‘God was on our side’: illegal fireworks spark several fires on Fresno homes over holiday weekend


This year, Fresno Fire responded to around 135 fires for the July 4 holiday

FRESNO, California (KSEE) — Fireworks-related calls kept Central Valley fire crews busy through the day after the Independence Day holiday. Since the sun went down Saturday, there have been several fires sparked by illegal fireworks.

Fresno Fire Department public information officer Shane Brown said the majority of crews in the city responded to calls non-stop well into 3 a.m. Sunday. He said crews responded to around 135 fires, a big jump from July 4, 2019, where they responded to only 78.

A lot of close calls in this year’s fires, including several residential ones. Luckily this year, no one got seriously hurt. Alex Castenon, though, is really thankful for his parents’ neighbors saving his loved ones’ lives.

It’s been all about clean up for Castenon and his family on Sunday. He said around 2 a.m., a fire sparked on his parents’ house. A woman happened to be driving by and honked her horn immediately.

“The neighbors next door heard her honking. They opened their doors [wondering] what’s going on. Lo and behold, the lady’s yelling at them, ‘What’s your address? There’s a fire, your neighbor’s house is on fire,'” Castenon said.

Castenon’s parents take medications to sleep, but fortunately their neighbors knocks were loud enough to wake up to.

The fire did spread to a neighboring home, but luckily the fire was mostly contained to the spot it started in. It’s one of several fires across the city Fresno Fire suspects was caused by illegal firework activity.

Brown said another fire happened behind a home by Arthur and Dudley avenues. There a fire destroyed a garage, a car and the back fence.

The high volume of calls caused Fresno Fire to suspend emergency medical aid for nearly three hours. Staffing is always an issue on busy nights, so much so, it affects how they respond.

“If you have a residential structure fire, [normally] you would get three engines and two of the large ladder trucks,” Brown said. “Yesterday, because we knew how busy we’d be, they were only sending two engines and one ladder — even when it was a confirmed structure fire.”

Castenon is thankful for the firefighters’ hard work that saved his parents’ home. Very thankful for the woman who just happened to be there.

“This fire could have really gotten out of control. Luckily someone saw it,” Castenon said. “God was on our side.”

Aside from calls in the city, Fresno Fire assisted crews with the North Central Fire District and Fresno County Fire crews.

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