Firefighters battle possible homeless related fire at vacant Fresno tire shop

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A large fire ripped through an empty Fresno building on Sunday morning and investigators suspect it might be related to homeless activity in the area.

It was less than one week ago that investigators say a squatter was suspected of starting a house fire on Rowell and Iowa streets. Now another building has been destroyed and again, homeless activity is suspected.

Steel beams, burnt twisted metal, and lots of charred debris are all that’s left of the vacant Ball Tire building near Kings Canyon and Recreation avenues.

“The amount of fire that was showing we took a defensive approach to control the fire,” explained Fresno Fire Cpt. Keola Park.

Crews responded to the fire sometime around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.

“The first units arrived on scene and reported heavy flames and smoke showing from the roof of the structure,” said Cpt. Park.

The Fresno Fire Department posted a photo of the blaze on their Facebook page and said this is not the first time the building has caught fire.

“The initial arriving company had been to this address before so they were pretty familiar with the building and the construction,” Cpt. Park said.

A woman whose family lives nearby and who did not want to be identified said a homeless encampment had been set up on the property

“They had replaced the fence, and they just chop it up and get back in there you know they’re homeless, they’re going to do whatever they need to do to get back in there,” said the woman. “They had tents, clothes it’s ugly, it’s embarrassing.”

She says she called the city to report the activity but as time went on, the number of transients living on the property grew.

“I never followed up with them, but I did what I was supposed to do? There are always police around here, the city doesn’t really care, I mean what can they do? There’s just so many of them,” she said.

Cpt. Park said the investigation as to what started the fire continues

“The building was vacant for some time now it’s an old tire shop, so potential homeless activity, but due to the conditions of the structure with the roof collapse and some wall collapse, our investigators have not completed their investigation yet until we and deem the building safe,” said Cpt. Park.

A total of five engines, two ladder trucks, a battalion chief, a safety officer, and a fire investigator all responded to Saturday’s commercial fire and were able to contain the fire and keep it from spreading to nearby homes.

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