Cutler Fire Leaves Families Homeless

March 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Several South Valley families lost their homes in a fire that sent two men to the hospital with burns.The fires started overnight in the Tulare County town of Cutler.

Just after midnight firefighters said the fire started in a back house where a 65-year-old man tried in vain to put out the flames. That's when CHP officers patrolling in the area spotted the fire and pulled him out. "Instinct and training just kicked in and we went to work doing what we had to. Didn't really have time to think about it," said CHP Officer Cedric Hughes.

The man suffered first and second degree burns to his arms and face. A second man living there was also burned.

"It's a real good way to get yourself hurt or possibly killed, going back inside a building when it's burning," said Bill Whitendale with the Tulare Co. Fire Department.

By then the flames had spread to the house in front. The fire also spread to a duplex next door, sending people running from their homes

"My mom told us to go in the living room because it might've catch fire, the roof. In the room, it was hot, it was really, really hot," said neighbor Fernando Prado.

The rest of the neighbors managed to escape, but their homes are so badly damaged they're now unlivable.

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