Fresno firefighters stretched thin by several fires on Memorial Day

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Several fires and the intense heat created challenges for Fresno firefighters. (KFSN)

Several fires and the intense heat created challenges for Fresno firefighters. The department was so busy this Memorial Day crews had to call in backup.

While firefighters fought the smoke and flames from above at Paradise Apartments, James Rollins scrambled on the ground below hoping his home made it out unscathed.

"It saved some apartments for real, because it was burning fast," said Rollins.

The neighbors weren't the only ones stuck in a worrisome predicament. Moments after this three-alarm fire drained half of the Fresno Fire Department's resources a vegetation fire on the west side of town broke out-- consuming more staff.

"During that time, we had 21 of our 26 pieces of equipment committed to incidents. We stopped responding to medical aids," said Todd Tuggle, Fresno Fire Department.

The fire department issued a rare recall, bringing in seven additional off duty firefighters and other pieces of equipment. But the hot, dry, weather continued to make the task even more difficult. Creating fatigue and forcing crews to be switched out more frequently.

"The time available for crews to be able to work in hot hours drops off significantly, just because the amount of equipment and the heat," said Tuggle.

Neighbors said they are thankful for the department's organized and fast response.

Only 6 units were damaged, Rollins' apartment barely missing the inferno.

"They was already here, so I knew they was going to be on top of it. It was a lot of units pulls up at one time, and they all came front to back."

With triple digit temperatures expected the next few days crews said they are bracing for tougher days, but before they start focusing on those challenges Tuggle said, "This is not the end of the shift, this is half way through a day. They have over 12 hours to go on a hot day, it's windy outside. This isn't the end of emergency calls for this crew."

Firefighters said they are still investigating the cause of the vegetation fire, but the apartment fire appeared to have started in the kitchen.

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