FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – Fire crews battled a massive fire at a warehouse near downtown Fresno on Saturday.
The Fresno Fire Department says the fire broke out around 6 pm at a warehouse attached to Quality Food Distribution near Thorne and Nielson, near the Highway 99 and 180 interchange.
There are currently 63 firefighters, 75% of the department’s on-duty personnel, working to contain the fire.
When firefighters arrived, they found the warehouse totally engulfed in flames, and dealt with explosions that were likely from propane tanks.
Nearby power lines also fell as as result of the fire.
“In the back, there was a power pole that was actively on fire with the lines about to drop so we weren’t able to go further back. We set up the ladder truck and started making an initial stand,” explained Fresno Fire Department Spokesperson Shane Brown.
Brown says the warehouse that burned is a total loss and there are unconfirmed reports it’s a storage or transfer facility for a thrift store.
The intense fire was a major threat to the surrounding area.
“We had a grass fire on the east side of the structure that was running across towards a live rail and then on the north side of the building there is another building that the fire was threatening as well that we had addressed as a potential exposure,” said Brown.
Explosions were also seen by firefighters at the start of the fire, something Brown says is fairly typical of large warehouse fires.
“We had explosions in the initial firefight most of that we attribute to probably propane tanks with forklifts and other equipment outside,” Brown said.
Brown also says the conditions on Saturday were ideal for the massive inferno and smoke was seen for miles across Fresno.
It’s still unclear what was actually burning inside the warehouse.
“The volume of the material together and the fact that it’s burning and emanating out and you know it’s hot so the inversion layer kind of keeps it down,” said Brown.
For residents caught in that thick smoke cloud downtown or in southeast Fresno, Brown says to close all windows and doors of your home and turn off your HVAC system if possible.
The cause of this fire is still under investigation.