Visalia Apartment Complex Fire

July 27, 2009 8:07:43 AM PDT
No one was injured in the fire Sunday on Mission and Woodland in Visalia, but neighbors claim someone may have set the blaze on purpose.No one was injured in the fire Sunday on Mission and Woodland in Visalia, but neighbors claim someone may have set the blaze on purpose.

"We immediately evacuated the neighbors and called 911 as we were trying to find out what was going on."

Isabel Gloria Alvarado was inside her Visalia home Sunday when her neighbors' apartment suddenly caught on fire. "And at that time all of the apartments were engulfed by flames and smoke."

50 firefighters from 4 different agencies arrived on scene. It took them an hour and a half to control the fire. In the end two units were destroyed, and one was damaged.

The fire left three families, including 13-year-old Diana Valasquez displaced. "We just lost our kitchen so it was sad and it was crazy."

Investigators said the blaze started in the car port. A car was reported on fire, and within minutes it spread to the complex. Some neighbors are saying it was probably arson. "This is the third time that its happened here in our neighborhood. We've had attempts on this apartment across the way from us right here, the apartments across the way on the other side blown up and then down the street, and then down the street and around the corner on this side."

Fire investigators do confirm there has been suspicious fire activity in this same neighborhood within the last several months. "Everything is suspicious at this point. Our investigators are following some leads from people that were around," said Darrin Hughes with the Visalia Fire Department.

Angry Sunday's fire may have been intentional; people in this South Visalia neighborhood gathered up food and clothes and passed them out to their neighbors who lost everything.

"They've got nothing but the clothes on their backs. We can't let them leave like that. They're our neighbors, they're our family."

Investigators from both the Visalia Police and Fire Departments stayed on scene for hours questioning neighbors. At this point, they have not determined the cause.

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