FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A string of recent fires have kept Fresno fire crews busy during the past week, but even with the recent fire activity, officials with the department said numbers show fire activity has gone down from last year.
Fresno fire’s Jonathan Lopez told us today that compared to last year at this time, the number of fires in the City of Fresno has gone down; this includes fires that are suspected to be homeless related fires or warming fires.
Lopez said that last year at the end of January there were a total of 682 fires and this year that number has been cut in half. We are at the end of the month and they have documented 394 fires so far for 2023.
These are numbers for all fire types within the city, one of their more recent incidents was an apartment fire a couple of days ago on east Tyler and North First Street.
After investigation, they believe the fire was intentionally started, and while no one was living at the unit, Lopez believes someone had been squatting in the unit. They don’t know if the person who squatted was the one responsible for the fire
“Whenever we’re talking about unhoused folks and fires, obviously we sympathize with their situation because most of them are just trying to stay warm but we really want them to do that in a way that’s as safe as possible,” he said.
Lopez said it was their arson dog named Shilo who was able to detect accelerant that had been poured throughout a number of areas within the unit. Lopez said that four of the units in that apartment complex were supposed to be empty but they found evidence of someone living in that unit that caught fire.
He also advises those who need a place to stay warm to make use of warming centers or local charities like the Poverello House.