‘I heard screaming’: man who escaped deadly house fire says he tried rescuing others

Local News

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Two people are dead, and five others are in the hospital, after a house fire in Fresno early Tuesday morning, according to Fresno County Coroner’s Office.

The fire started around 3:30 a.m., near Ashlan and Palm.

According to crews on scene, a total of 12 people were inside at the time. They found debris surrounding the home, some even spilling into the street, and that made rescue efforts difficult.

Both North Central Fire Protection District and Fresno Fire Department responded.

“When the Fresno City units arrived on scene, the back of the building was fully engulfed, the back of the house,” says Andy Isolano with North Central Fire Protection District.

Of the 12 people inside at the, crews say three adults and two children got out on their own. However, three adults and four children, ranging from 4-months-old to four-years-old, had to be rescued.

The fire claimed the lives of 31-year-old Nicolas Rodriguez and 25-year-old Patricia Rodriguez (the two are not related). Fresno County Coroner’s Office says Nicolas’ wife remains in the hospital in critical condition. Their four children are also in the hospital, but are expected to recover.

“Once we get a report of people trapped, we go from offensive mode to defensive mode, we automatically go into rescue mode,” said Isolano.

But neighbors say the accumulation of debris around the home was concerning.

“Stuff started spilling out into the streets, one time I couldn’t even go by to leave to work so I’d call on them and they would tell them to move things,” says Julia Carrillo.

Andrew Chavez says he was asleep inside the home when he woke up to a terrifying situation.

“I was asleep in my bedroom,” Chavez said, “I heard screaming and I woke up and I seen flame on the ceiling so I ran out the back door and came to the front and tried to break the windows.”

Chavez says he did everything he could to help the others that were still trapped inside.

“We just tried to get everybody out,” said Chavez. “It was really on fire big time by then. In seconds, in a matter of three seconds, the place was lit up. I was lucky to get out.”

Victims were treated inside Downtown Fresno’s CRMC. The hospital is known for their treatment of burn victims.

“We have a distinct advantage of being able to care for the critical injuries and the burn injuries but we are also able to care for adults and pediatric patients here in our hospital,” said trauma and burn team member Dr. Mary Wolfe.

“We have a staff of four burn surgeons. In addition to those four burn surgeons we also have an acute surgery and trauma faculty that can help out as necessary for burn patients in a case like this.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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