“Makes me count my blessings,” Man speaks out after home destroyed by illegal fireworks

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — James Verdugo’s house of about seven years was taken by fire Friday.

The fire was one of many during a busy holiday weekend for firefighters. It was filled with illegal fireworks.

“As weird as it sounds, going through something like this it actually makes me count my blessings — everybody’s OK,” Verdugo said.

This includes his 10 year old bulldog Sampson who was saved by firefighters.

The dog is more than a just pet to the army veteran with PTSD, who lost his brother and father recently.

“He’s pretty much my emotional support dog, he’s been with me through everything that I’ve been through,” Verdugo said.

According to the City of Fresno from Friday to Sunday they received more than 530 illegal fireworks complaints.

Verdugo was not home when his house went up in flames, but others were and said they heard loud fireworks, saw a nearby tree ignite and the flames quickly started spreading to the house.

The home along with many belongings are now destroyed and three people are displaced, but despite the losses, Verdugo said this 4th of July weekend there was also reason to celebrate.

“Life is the only thing you can’t replace and having my dog and my friends that lived here with me, and me being alive, I actually seem very fortunate all things considered,” he said.

Sampson is expected to suffer from long term effects from the smoke inhalation. His bills are nearly $10,000 the community can help by donating to his GoFundMe here.

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