Vacant house goes up in flames, Fresno Fire crews battle to protect surrounding homes

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

A vacant home on Simpson Avenue and Mariposa Street in Central Fresno went up in flames around 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

Firefighter fought to save other nearby houses. They said the cause was still under investigation, but neighbors said squatters have been a constant problem.

“We’ve been dealing with this for about five years people coming in and out, and it’s pretty frustrating,” Garry Bushby said.

He said it’s been a magnet for homeless and neighbors have called the city numerous times.

“Sometimes by the time police do arrive the people that are over there are gone,” he said.

Dana Johnson said the same house caught fire over the winter.

“It had to have been from someone living in there lighting a fire to keep themselves warm and then it had caught. But (firefighters) got to it quickly,” she said.

Neighbors said Thursday’s fire spread more rapidly. Nearly two dozen firefighters responded.

“They arrived here. They found a vacant residential structure with heavy fire that had already burned through the roof,” Robert Castillo with the Fresno Fire Department said.

He said the flames were a threat to surrounding homes.

“One of our top priorities when we got here was to protect the exposures — the nearby homes that were threatened by this fire,” he said.

Firefighters were able to contain the flames and there were no reported injuries, but the house was a total loss.

“I think the homeless need places to be but they shouldn’t be moving into somebody else’s house and squatting,” Johnson said.

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