FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Investigators for the Fresno Fire Department suspect arson could be the cause of an early morning fire at a Tower District apartment building.
The building was supposed to be vacant after a Friday kitchen fire at the same address left conditions unsafe for residents.
Fresno Fire crews responded a call for a fire at the corner of Olive Avenue and Calaveras Street just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
In the fight against the fire, one firefighter sustained minor injuries and multiple cats were rescued from the building, which was converted from offices.
People were found to have been living in the building, that was supposed to be empty because of Friday’s fire.
“There had actually been a fire at this same building last week. The meter had been pulled, and the residents were displaced. Evidently, people were not supposed to be back in there this early because the meter still had not been restored,” said Jonathan Lopez, public information officer for the Fresno Fire Department.
We stopped by the site of the fire later on in the day Wednesday, where we found John Kilgore. He had to work as fast he could, as he tried to get everything he owned into a U-Haul.
“We had another fire last night. And we’re trying to get all our property out of the house,” Kilgore said.
Kilgore’s unit was located in the center of the building, in between the one involved in Friday’s fire, and the one Wednesday morning. He said it was relatively unscathed in the first fire, but he was ordered to leave.
“They told us the next day that pretty much, they’re gonna bolt up the doors and we have to, we can’t live here,” said Kilgore.
Kilgore’s cats were actually the ones that had to be rescued from the building. He continued to live there while he moved his belongings out with nowhere else to go.
“I told the fire department that you know, I had animals in there and (they) pretty much contained it to those units and saved mine,” he said
It’s the 25th fire in a vacant structure in 2023, but those numbers have seen a slight increase over the past few years.
In 2022 there were 118 fires in vacant structures, up from 111 in 2021, and 89 in 2020.
The Fresno Fire Department asks that if residents see anyone enter a vacant or condemned building, they call the police.
Additionally, you can report vacant or unsafe buildings through the FresGO app.