Fresno Fire responded to a three-alarm blaze just after 2 P.M. Thursday at the Sunset Sands Apartments on East McKinley near Maple Avenue. 12 out of the 16 units in the building are affected, many of them a total loss.
A week before Thanksgiving, Red Cross handed out blankets, food and water to those that are now displaced. Eric Bridges recorded the moments just before chaos unfolded inside his mom’s apartment on Facebook Live.
“When she opened the door, it was just a full blaze of flames coming out the other unit from across the way. So I just grabbed my mom and pulled her oxygen tank off and pulled her out the back door and we just kept going,” said Bridges.
Flames shot out of the building at the Sunset Sands Apartments. Eric’s mom Margaret had just returned home from the hospital — diagnosed with stage three lung cancer.
“I’m on oxygen 24 hours a day so I have to I don’t know. Do the best I can I guess,” said Margaret Mullen.
At least 50 firefighters arrived but officials say electrical issues challenged crews inside. PG&E responded to make sure power was shut down.
“We were hearing significant electrical sounds. Zapping, popping inside the unit itself,” said Fresno Fire Department Deputy Chief Rich Cabral.
Dave Trujillo says he heard yelling before seeing smoke everywhere outside. He got halfway down the stairs before tumbling to the ground.
“And I couldn’t take it no more. The smoke was just choking me. The fire was burning my arms,” said Trujillo.
The Vietnam vet is relieved he got his service dog out with him.
“I mean this is my best buddy,” said Trujillo.
Officials say everyone affected got out safe. Two people were treated for smoke inhalation but belongings, important and sentimental for many — are destroyed.
“I lost everything. Everything,” said Mullen.
According to Fresno Fire, early reports say a cooking appliance may have started the fire from inside one of these units. The investigation is ongoing.