FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A woman and her two young children are in the hospital. Fire fighters say they were burned by intense heat during an apartment fire in East Central Fresno. An investigation is underway at the Parkwood Apartments on Shields near Sierra Vista.
Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the fire. Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis says it's not clear how, but the fire started on a tree outside the apartments and then spread to the building.
Fire crews quickly began cutting holes in the roof of this 10-unit apartment, venting the intense heat as flames reached high above the building. At the same time, a woman and her two young children, a four-year-old boy and 8-month-old girl, were treated for heat burns on their hands and face.
"It was smoky and then out of nowhere the fire came out of nowhere. It started spreading down like three apartments down," apartment resident President Ford said. "There was two fire extinguishers in the back that they tried and the fire kept getting bigger and bigger."
Ford lives in the building with his family. He says a neighbor pounded on his door, warning him about the quickly spreading fire. "So I ran out, didn't think about it. I started banging on all the neighbor's doors to get them out," he said.
"Some of my fire fighters were saying the same thing," Chief Donis said. "They were trying to ask if there was anybody else in the building. There were, so they were assisting people trying to find their way through the smoke. It's a really dangerous situation to put themselves in harm's way, a citizen or fire fighters, it's impressive."
Not calling this arson just, Donis says investigators are looking at all possibilities for ignition.
More than 50 fire fighters responded at the height of the fire fight, a difficult one for crews because of the building layout. "It's tucked back, and there's trees surrounding it, which means the smoke lies down really low," Donis said. "It's very hard to make access into that area."
10 units are now damaged or destroyed from the flames, smoke and water. And the people who live here are left to wonder what they'll be able to salvage.
Additional crews were brought in because temperatures were still in the 90's when the fire started. They had to rotate crews out to prevent any heat-related illnesses.
The Red Cross and other community aid groups are here helping the people who lost their homes.